Belfast Telegraph

Mums set NI record in new bid to encourage breastfeeding

By Staff Reporter

Lord Mayor - and mum - Nuala McAllister joined scores of other nursing mothers in Belfast to set a new Northern Ireland record at the weekend.

Some 183 women fed 187 children around the province as part of the Global Big Latch On, part of breastfeeding celebration, Breastival. The new record represents a massive increase on last year's total of 74.

The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe, and Northern Ireland has the lowest rate in the UK.

"The amount of people that turned up has shown that there is a massive appetite for events like this and more support for breastfeeding mothers and their babies," said organiser Dr Jennifer Hanratty, a researcher at Queen's University in Belfast.

"It's been unbelievable. We started off with a small idea that we would do something little and see who showed up."

Despite the NHS and World Health Organisation recommending that children should be breastfed until the age of two, just 7% of kids here are breastfed past the age of six months.

Events like the Global Big Latch On aim to normalise breastfeeding in public places and provide support for mothers.

Ms McAllister hailed the meeting as a "massive success". She brought along her son Finn, who is almost one.

"It shows the public that breastfeeding is normal - 134 mothers fed 136 babies in Belfast, so a massive shout-out to the mums who were feeding two babies," she said.

"It's about building confidence and lending support to families who need it. When you're breastfeeding, it's so important to have peer support.

"Belfast should be accessible for everyone - and that includes mums."

Belfast Telegraph