Breastfeeding Rates In Ireland Still Below International Average

Despite better education and improvements for supporting it in Ireland in recent years, our country still falls below international targets set for breastfeeding.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has called for more support for breastfeeding families in Ireland. In a new paper published by the Faculty of Paediatrics, Faculty of Public Health and the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, it shows that despite us making headway over the past 15 years, there is still a discrepancy between our country and those internationally.

Breastfeeding rates in Ireland remain below international targets, which may be down to cultural norms, knowledge gaps among healthcare professionals, or the lack of practical support. Some mothers may also feel shame or discomfort when it comes to breastfeeding, especially if out in public.

The RCPI are calling for greater support for breastfeeding families around Ireland, as well as better education for both the public and for healthcare professionals. Improvements in hospital facilities to support breastfeeding is also an area that they find should be looked at.

When it comes to the arrival of our newborns, all have a different breastfeeding journey. No two babies will be the same when it comes to how they want their milk supply. However, with some more national guidance, that journey could be made that little bit simpler for breastfeeding families.

One of the paper's authors, Dr Meredith Kinoshita, noted that mothers in Ireland report receiving conflicting information about breastfeeding from healthcare professionals. This then leads to uncertainty and can undermine a new parent's confidence in the act.

Dr Kinoshita said: "Healthcare professionals should have the appropriate education and skillset to support breastfeeding, with consistent information and continuity between services in hospitals and the community. Clinical exposure is key in this regard.

"Hospital facilities should also support breastfeeding, for example when breastfeeding mothers are admitted as inpatients. Rooming-in facilities and equipment and facilities for expressing and storing breastmilk should be provided in those instances. The establishment of a donor milk services for the Republic of Ireland would also be welcomed."

The paper from RCPI entitled A Position Paper on Breastfeeding is available to read in full here.

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