The HSE will be highlighting National Breastfeeding Week 2023 (1st to 7th of October) with participation in a number of events in the Waterford area.
The Breastfeeding Friendly Waterford Interagency Working Group have organised a suite of events scheduled throughout the week to support the launch of the National Healthy Ireland Framework “We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Waterford” and to promote and celebrate breastfeeding.
A Cuidiú coffee morning for all parents and the breastfeeding community in the Central Library, a launch by the Deputy Mayor in City Hall of the National Healthy Ireland “We’re Breastfeeding Friendly” framework and the unveiling of a mural in the city centre are among the activities organised by the Breastfeeding Friendly Waterford Interagency Working group, which the HSE will be supporting, along with other key partners in such ventures including Waterford City and County Council, the Sláintecare/Waterford Healthy Communities initiative, Cuidiú (parent to parent breastfeeding support group), Réalta Centre for Arts and Health, Waterford Libraries, Autism Friendly Waterford and CYPSC Waterford.
The theme of this year’s National Breastfeeding Week is ‘Making our communities and workplaces more breastfeeding friendly’ and it aims to raise awareness of local supports for parents and the expansion in law of breastfeeding breaks during work hours up until to a child’s second birthday.
According to its 2022 HSE figures, 62% of babies were breastfed when the Public Health Nurse made their first visit after birth. The figure has been rising since a rate of 55% was recorded in 2017.
The HSE, as part of an inter-agency group in the Waterford area, will be supporting a range of activities next week:
- Monday 2nd October: 10am-12pm Cuidiú Coffee morning for all parents and members of the breastfeeding community , Central Library, Waterford.
- Wednesday 4th October: 11am-12.30pm Launch of Healthy Ireland “We’re Breastfeeding Friendly” framework by the Deputy Mayor Cllr. Declan Doocey in the Large Room, Waterford City Hall.
- Thursday, 5th October: 1-2pm Artist Talk with Dr. Afif El-Khuffash with poetry by Dr. Maria Tempany (Author on Motherhood and Poet), Réalta Centre for Arts and Health, with panel discussion to follow.
- Friday 6th October: 12pm (to be confirmed) Unveiling of a mural by street artist Zabou in Ballybricken, Waterford City Centre (on gable end of Mulligan’s Pharmacy, Ballybricken X91 RY26), depicting an image supporting breastfeeding – commissioned through Waterford Walls and sponsored by Waterford City and County Council and Mulligans Pharmacy.
Throughout October, 10 breastfeeding related art pieces by Dr. Afif El Khuffash will be on display at the Central Library (x 5) and the Réalta Centre for Arts and Health (formerly Waterford Healing Arts Trust), University Hospital Waterford (x 5). Dr. El Khuffash is a Consultant Neonatologist and Paediatrician at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital and is also a qualified International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Speaking ahead of the National Breastfeeding Week events in Waterford, Claire Bulfin, (Midwife and Lactation Consultant at University Hospital Waterford) said:
“Parents can get support and advice on establishing breastfeeding from their Midwife and Public Health Nurse. They can also ask them questions about other aspects of caring for newborn babies, such as recognising what is normal in the early weeks and soothing a crying or unsettled baby. Hospital and community healthcare Lactation Consultants can offer support with specific breastfeeding queries and challenges.
“The number of breastfeeding groups is also growing in every county and such excellent support is readily accessible throughout Waterford City and County. The Cuidiú organisation (see www.Cuidiu.ie) have been fantastic, in addition to the Library services. There are also a range of online resources, such as virtual breastfeeding groups. Practical breastfeeding advice and so much more (including contact details for support groups etc.) on the HSE’s www.MyChild.ie – including the 7 day a week “Ask our Expert” live chat and e-mail breastfeeding support service.
“I encourage mothers to attend breastfeeding classes and get advice for their own situation in the antenatal period, to prepare them for what to expect in the early days and weeks. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing mums surprise themselves at how well they do, gaining confidence with every feed and enjoying breastfeeding their baby.
In addition to Lactation Consultants being in place in the region’s four maternity hospitals (University Hospital Waterford, Wexford General Hospital, St. Luke’s General Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny and Tipperary General Hospital), there are also HSE/South East Community Healthcare based Lactation Consultants across counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford.
Looking forward to the programme of activities marking this year’s National Breastfeeding Week, Brianna Connaughton (Health Promotion and Improvement Officer with HSE/South East Community Healthcare’s Health and Wellbeing Service) says:
“Improving breastfeeding rates will help to improve long term population health. Breastfeeding supports your child’s health now and over the long term. It’s also important for mothers too, supporting their recovery after birth, supports bonding with their baby and also reducing their risk of breast cancer and diabetes.”
“Looking at this year’s National Breastfeeding Week theme of ‘Making our communities and workplaces more breastfeeding friendly’ reminds me as to many mothers who have now returned to work and have seen first-hand the difference breastfeeding breaks in the workplace has made. Recent advances in legislation have made combining breastfeeding and returning to work more appealing and feasible. Breastfeeding breaks, as provided for, have helped some mothers breastfeed for longer than they intended to.”