Press Release

Minister Catherine Byrne supports Breastfeeding Week saying it’s important to ensure women can breastfeed anytime and anywhere

Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne TD, has lent her support to the annual HSE Breastfeeding Week campaign, emphasising the importance of ensuring mothers to breastfeed anytime and anywhere.

Minister Byrne also welcomed the approach taken with the HSE breastfeeding supports, which include the website which includes live web chat with experts and videos to provide practical guidance, and a HSE Breastfeeding Facebook page.

“Supporting mothers to breastfeed, and increasing breastfeeding rates, are important in achieving a healthier Ireland, and this is emphasised in everything from our Maternity Strategy, to our Obesity Policy to our new Cancer Strategy. I strongly endorse the approach taken with the HSE breastfeeding services and supports which revolve around the real needs and questions that women have and where the key message is that every breastfeed makes a difference.”

The Minister also welcomed the work underway in the HSE to develop a revised model to support the implementation of the WHO/UNICEF 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which is the basis of the Baby Friendly Initiative.

“I look forward to seeing the revised model of the Baby Friendly Initiative implemented in early 2018. We all share the goal of ensuring that best quality breastfeeding practices and supports are in place across all our maternity services,” added Minister Byrne.

However, the Minister said that creating a supportive culture in society so that more women choose to breastfeed, to continue breastfeeding for longer and feel confident with their choices, is critically important. She referred to a report published this week by the Institute of Public Health on breastfeeding on the island of Ireland, which showed that many breastfeeding mothers would like to have breastfed for longer.

“It is so important that our culture and attitudes support women to breastfeed for as long as they want to, and at anytime and anywhere. We have a commitment in the new Women and Girls strategy to extend provision for breastfeeding breaks under employment legislation, which are currently available to mothers of children under 6 months, which will be an important step forward. My Department has also commissioned research from the Health Research Board to look at other countries where breastfeeding rates have increased recently and assess what practical measures Ireland needs to be put in place to achieve similar increases.”