There is no doubt that when it comes to feeding your baby, breast is most definitely best. But despite most of us knowing this, Ireland has a very low breastfeeding rate. A recent study found that while more than three quarters of Irish mothers will try breastfeeding their new baby at least once, by the time they leave hospital more than half will have stopped, and when these babies reach two months old, just 14 per cent are being exclusively breastfed.
It’s recommended that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, and for mums to continue to give the baby her milk as part of the daily diet until the child is two years of age and beyond for maximum benefits. According to the HSE, breastmilk contains essential enzymes, hormones and immunoglobulins vital for your baby’s normal growth, development and good health. Every single drop of breastmilk is good for your baby’s health, and the longer you breastfeed for the greater the health protection for both you and your baby.
But while breastfeeding is promoted as natural and instinctual, the fact is that it’s a skill that you and your baby have to learn together in the days following birth – and like any other skill, it takes time to master and sometimes there are hurdles to overcome. It might be tempting to just give up, but don’t – instead look for help and support to get you over your particular hurdle. Lots of early problems, such as sore nipples, are connected to poor latch, so it’s well worth even getting advice on your latch when getting started. Read more here about latching.
Issues like tongue tie are a little more complicated, but easily fixed once the problem has been identified. Read more here.
For invaluable questions and answers on all issues related to breastfeeding, the HSE’s website www.breastfeeding.ie is a treasure trove of information. Make sure to read through these when pregnant so you know what to expect.
While you can read all you want, sometimes you need someone to observe and show you what to do. Organisations like Cuidiu and La Leche League provide support and information to breastfeeding mothers, and help nurture a breastfeeding culture in Ireland. Alternatively, your public health nurse can help and guide you with breastfeeding and point you towards a local breastfeeding/mums and babies group, which will give you and your little one a social outlet as well as a valuable source of support and advice from mums who are on the same journey as you.
The important thing is that you get help and advice if you want to continue breastfeeding. The time to wean is when you and your baby are ready, not before – the support is there, you just need to ask for it.
Originally posted 2017-03-29 12:14:35.