Supporting World Breast Feeding Week 1st August to 7th August 2020

03/08/2020

Did you know that breastfeeding is good for the environment? Think about it – no plastic bottles, sterilisers, rubber teats etc. Breast milk is one of nature’s most environmentally friendly and nutritionally rich resources. It’s locally produced by local mums, it’s sustainable, doesn’t need packaging or energy from the environment to produce. It has zero ‘food miles’, zero waste and zero greenhouse emissions and it is both a renewable and a natural resource.

We are supporting World Breastfeeding Week which runs from 1st August to 7th August 2020 with this year’s campaign focussing on the impact of breastfeeding on the environment and on climate change. In the Western Trust our midwives and health visitors are working hard to ensure they help support and encourage mothers to breastfeed, creating supportive environments where breast feeding is viewed and accepted as being the norm.

Kathy Jackson, Lead Nurse for Public Health and the Western Trust explains: “Creating a supportive environment is crucial if we are to improve our breast feeding rates which disappointingly are the lowest in the world. Decisions about infant feeding and the success of breast feeding are deeply embedded within a woman`s social and cultural environment. In Northern Ireland we live within a bottle feeding culture particularly in Derry/Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane areas. Research shows that 8 out of 10 women stop breastfeeding before they want to because of challenges from local cultural norms and attitudes. They also stop in the early stages because of lack of support from both health professionals, family and the public.

Kathy added: “The Western Trust is committed to working with women, families, voluntary, statutory and community organisations to create supportive nurturing environments that values and supports women to breast feed their infants. In particular we want to build on the partnership between ourselves and the wonderful Peer Support Mothers, who provide 24/7 support to mothers virtually and face to face. The Peer Support Mothers have all breast fed themselves and have a high level of training provided by the Western Trust.

Brona McSorley, Community Infant Lead has been recently appointed for the Londonderry/Derry, Limavady and Strabane area. Brona along with Ann McCrea, Community Infant Lead for the Omagh and Fermanagh area ensure mothers living in the Western Trust have equal access to expert advice and practical problem solving support.

If you are interested in becoming a Peer Support Mum, training will be commencing again in Autumn 2020 via Zoom. For more information contact the Community Infant Feeding Leads:

  • Ann McCrea 07759935106 Omagh and Fermanagh area;
  • Brona McSorley 07901511975 Londonderry/Derry, Limavady and Strabane area.

“The benefit of this support is invaluable, particularly, during the COVID-19 pandemic where our Infant Feeding Leads worked with health visitors to prioritise getting accurate, accessible and up to date online parent resources about breast feeding to antenatal mothers. Midwives in the hospital commented that the number of women choosing breast feeding increased as a result because women were better prepared, informed and motivated.”

“While breast feeding is natural it is also a learned skill. It usually takes at least a few weeks for mother and baby to get used to breast feeding. If these few weeks are difficult it can be tempting to give up. This is where the support of fathers, grandparents and friends is vital. If a mother feels supported by family and the wider community she is likely to breast feed for longer. The longer she breast feeds the greater the benefits to both the mother and baby!.”

Kathy concluded: “World Breast Feeding Week ‘Breastival’ is moving online to celebrate world breastfeeding week. They have a packed programme of fun, support and learning. Register with Breastival so that on Monday the 3rd August you can meet all those local people who are ready, willing and able to support mothers breast feed. Check it out here. Follow them on social media @breastivalNI to keep up to date on events taking place such as The Big Latch On which is a global initiative where women around the world get together with their partners, friends, family and supporters at 10.30am on Saturday 1st August to feed together.”

For Breastfeeding Information and Support in the Western Trust click here.