Press Release

Launch of information leaflet entitled “Breastfeeding your Baby” to coincide with World Health Day

The Department of Health and Children is happy to announce the launch of an information leaflet entitled “Breastfeeding your Baby” to coincide with the World Health Organisation’s World Health Day, which takes place this Thursday, 7th April 2005. The objective of World Health Day, celebrated annually since 1950, is to raise global awareness of a specific health theme and highlights a priority area of concern. The theme of this year’s World Health Day is ”Make every mother and child count.”. The effective promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding can make a major contribution to the optimum present and future health of mothers and their children.

In its Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding, the World Health Organisation states that, “breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants.” There is a large body of compelling research evidence to back this up.

The information leaflet being launched by the Department is to support the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), which a project of the Irish Network of Health Promoting Hospitals and aims at providing the best evidence-based standard of breastfeeding promotion, protection and support to families. It was first introduced in Ireland in 1998 and is having a positive impact on breastfeeding rates and practices here.

The leaflet launched today will be available on post-natal wards around the country and will help new mothers to learn the skills of breastfeeding. It explains how to position and attach the baby for breastfeeding, normal patterns of breastfeeding, expressing milk and where to get more information.

Breastfeeding is important for the short and long term health of the child and of the mother. Breast milk contains antibodies to protect babies against infections and also gives some protection against other illnesses such as asthma, eczema, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, strokes and other diseases later on in life. Breastfeeding is good for mothers too. It provides mothers with some protection against breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis in later life. Breastfeeding is the natural way to use up the fat stored during pregnancy and helps mothers to get back in shape. A healthy baby also means less worries for the parents.

Remember: “YOUR breast milk is perfect for YOUR baby and adapts to meet your baby’s changing needs. Most babies need no other food or drink until they are six months old.”