Did you know that Ireland has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world? While 63% of mums begin breastfeeding in hospital, only 15% of them are still breastfeeding by the time their baby reaches six months old.
This means that the biggest drop-off in breastfeeding happens during the first weeks of a baby’s life.
While breastfeeding is natural, it’s not always easy or possible for all women. For many women, it’s a learned skill that requires a little patience. With the right education, experience and support, mothers can go on to have a truly wonderful breastfeeding experience.
With this in mind, UNICEF Ireland has created a comprehensive guide to breastfeeding support in Ireland.
1. Breastfeeding Classes and Groups
Your antenatal breastfeeding class is one of the first places you’ll learn about feeding your baby. The health practitioner will guide you through what to expect, how to latch your baby correctly, feeding positions and supplies you’ll need.
Postpartum, your local Public Health Breastfeeding Group will be your first port of call when it comes to breastfeeding support. Your public health midwife or nurse will visit you during your first 3 days at home with your baby. They are there to support you and your baby, and help with any concerns you may have. They’re likely to provide you with information breastfeeding groups in your area, but if they don’t please do ask.
For many mums, breastfeeding is a learned skill acquired through education, observation and experience. If you’re struggling please reach out to your public health nurse, GP or local breastfeeding group for help.
2. La Leche League of Ireland
The La Leche League of Ireland is a highly effective breastfeeding support organization that offers mothers information, guidance, and free support throughout their breastfeeding journey. La Leche’s trained volunteers are mothers who have all breastfed at least one child for a year, making their first-hand experience invaluable to new mums.
La Leche also organise nationwide monthly meetings where mothers can share their experiences and get advice and support from one another. To date, there are more than 30 support groups throughout Ireland, meaning advice is always nearby.
Their website offers a wealth of information on breastfeeding and its benefits, including advice on breastfeeding techniques, weaning, and common breastfeeding challenges.
Cuidiú is another notable breastfeeding support organisation that has been in existence in Ireland since the 1970s. It is a volunteer-led organization that offers support for new and expectant parents through different stages of parenthood, including breastfeeding.
They provide support to mothers through trained breastfeeding counsellors who offer practical advice, one-on-one support, and group meetings held in various locations across the country.
Their website has several resources, including articles, forums, and tips on breastfeeding.
4. Baby Classes, Groups and Events
When it comes to breastfeeding the best advice and support often comes from other mums. They have lived through the sleepless nights, cluster feeds and sore breasts and can offer a wealth of information and advice.
When baby arrives try and join a mother and baby group in your area. We know it can seem daunting, but meeting other mums will benefit both you and baby. You’ll be able to learn from past experiences and find support to continue your breastfeeding journey.
5. Social Media
Today there’s a wealth of knowledge to be found on social platforms like Instagram. OB-GYNs, midwives, lactation consultants and mums regularly share advice, top tips and their own experiences with breastfeeding.
Many of them have faced similar challenges to what you may encounter, and can offer practical solutions. You can also find excellent breastfeeding groups on Facebook where you can join, ask questions and comments, and get support from other mothers.
The Breastfeeding Mentor informative, and compassionate, content has everything a mother needs to know about breastfeeding, pumping, feeding and weaning. She is an advocate for mothers whether they choose to breastfeed or not and is truly an inspiring influencer to add to your “follow” list.
Ciara Nurture for Two is an Irish lactation expert, midwife and nurse with a growing following on Instagram. She offers fantastic practical advice for mums and is an excellent resource for all things breastfeeding and baby.
These are just two of the many influencers and experts online who can help you traverse breastfeeding and life postpartum.
Breastfeeding can be challenging, but with the right support, mothers can enjoy a fulfilling breastfeeding journey. The above-listed resources are great places to start, and we hope this guide helps you navigate your way through your breastfeeding journey with more confidence.
Remember, you are not alone, and seeking support is crucial in ensuring a successful breastfeeding experience.