Belfast Telegraph

Breastfeeding: Why mums need public support

Despite having made real progress over the years, Northern Ireland still has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the UK and one of the lowest in Europe.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) recently launched the campaign Not Sorry Mums to promote the benefits of breastfeeding and encourage the public to show their support for mums who breastfeed.

While most mums here have positive experiences breastfeeding research commissioned by the PHA indicated that some women were not particularly comfortable breastfeeding outside the home and in front of members of their extended family. Recent media coverage of women being asked to stop breastfeeding in public has also reinforced the perception that breastfeeding is not acceptable in public.

Janet Calvert, Regional Breastfeeding Lead for the Public Health Agency said:

Support within the family and from the wider community can really make a difference. Creating that supportive environment for breastfeeding is something we can all play an active part in as it can help mums feel more comfortable about feeding in public, something that can be quite daunting for first time mums and we know many mums are apprehensive about it.

For some mums we know getting started isn’t easy and that’s why support is crucial at the beginning and in sustaining breastfeeding. While breastfeeding is natural it is also a learned skill. It usually takes a few weeks for mother and baby to get used to breastfeeding.

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Janet continued: "If the early weeks are challenging it can be really difficult for many mums to keep going with breastfeeding. But there is help and support available. Your midwife and health visitor will be able to give you practical advice and you can also get help from local breastfeeding support groups and advice from voluntary breastfeeding counsellors."

Visit www.notsorrymums.info to find out more about breastfeeding. The site has information on mother-to-mother support, which is available from local breastfeeding support groups and peer support volunteers, and information for partners and families who can offer support to mothers. It also covers what dads need to know about breastfeeding, offering practical advice and tips on how they can help their partner.

You can also click here to view the interactive map to find breastfeeding support groups in your area or join the conversation about breastfeeding support using #NotSorryMums

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