As a midwife, I’m a huge breastfeeding advocate.
I could list all the reasons that it’s great, but you probably know a lot of those already. Breastfeeding really can be an incredibly worthwhile journey. It’s what our boobs were designed for and who knows, maybe it will be one of the best decisions you ever made.
What I would encourage every mum to do is just to give it a go! The best way to really give it a go is to arm yourself with the right supports. There are some amazing people and groups that can understand your breastfeeding journey, support you through it and help you when and if you encounter any challenges and difficulties.
Every Maternity hospital will have lactation consultants. These are specially trained nurses and midwives who usually have years of experience in helping mums. They run information classes to go to antenatally, which will give you a better understanding of what to expect. They will also try to visit you once you give birth.
However, you can always make an appointment with them antenatally to talk through any concerns you might have and to ask your questions.
You can get their contact number via your hospital's website or you can ask to speak with them on your antenatal visits.
All midwives who work in maternity hospitals also have special breastfeeding training. The support is there, but sometimes you need to ask for it.
In the Community
Public Health Nurses will visit every mum once they go home. ALL PHN’s have had special breastfeeding training. A lot of Public Health Clinics will also run drop-in breastfeeding support clinics or groups for mums and their babies.
Give your local centre a call whilst you are pregnant, and they’ll be able to give you details of what that centre provides.
Also, check out this HSE webiste listing most breastfeeding supports by county.
In Ireland, we are very lucky to have an amazing network of highly experienced and very well-trained lactation consultants who work in private practice. The Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland (ACLI) have a brilliant feature on their website.
You type in your county or location and they will bring up a list of Lactation Consultants who work within or cover that area, and their contact details. This amazing resource means that you can link in with a consultant antenatally or more importantly if you encounter a problem once you get home.
They often do home visits, so they can come and see you and help you on your breastfeeding journey. I’m lucky enough to know and have met several ACLI members; they are committed, very supportive and understanding.
If you are having issues, they will usually have a very sensible solution. Sometimes all you need is someone’s wisdom, and lactation consultants are like an encyclopaedia for boobs!
Cuidiú is a parent to parent volunteer support charity. They have lots of information on breastfeeding on their very easy to navigate website
They host coffee and information meetings, peer support meetings and they also have 100 specially qualified breastfeeding support counsellors. These are mums who have breastfed themselves and have additional training support you.
These BFC’s offer phone support and also host coffee mornings and meetups for mums. It’s a great way to get to know other mums in your area.
It can really help you feel less isolated in your journey and sometimes all you need is someone to tell you what a great job you’re doing and that they know how you feel because they’ve been there themselves.
You are welcome to join a group while pregnant, so check out their website to find one close to you.
La Leche League
La Leche League is an international group, who also have members and groups in Ireland. Their mission is “to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.”
They have lots of really great information on their website and have meet-ups and groups dotted around the country.