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Breastfeeding in Ireland: Support & Resources

Breastfeeding is something I’ve wanted to write about since I started Cuddle Fairy & never got around to it! Yikes! It’s probably because I had stopped breastfeeding my youngest before I started my blog so it’s not a current event in my house anymore. Regardless, breastfeeding my three kids was an important time for me so I’d like to share a bit about that with you now!

What prompted this post at this time, is an email I received from Mary at the Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland (ALCI) who was interested in my sharing some info about breastfeeding. Before I do that, I’d like to share a bit about my experience with breastfeeding.

My breastfeeding experiences

Our first child was born in 2007. I remember after having been awake for 48-hours straight, trying to make sense of a nurse’s instructions on how to make a bottle. I remember thinking – but I’m breastfeeding why is she telling me all of this? I shut off & nodded my head.

There was very little support for breastfeeding in the maternity ward. The midwives were busy & uninterested in helping me learn how to get my baby to latch on right. As a result I ended up with really sore boobs. Regardless, I was determined to breastfeed & powered on. Our son was in special care & the midwives there were incredibly helpful. That’s where I learned how to position him properly & our breastfeeding experience started to come together.

The first two weeks after getting home, I had many panicked calls to my mother. While breastfeeding is natural, we don’t see anyone do it & we have no idea how to do it until we are faced with a screaming hungry baby & don’t know what to do! Having a support network is critical. Many women in Ireland don’t have mother’s who breastfed which I imagine would make things all the more difficult.

Regardless of sore boobs & lots of tears I was determined & carried on breastfeeding. There were a lot of ups & downs along the road. I will continue on with my breastfeeding story in another post. But long story short, I breastfed all three of my kids for around 14 months each. Breastfeeding (once established) is some of the nicest memories I have with my babies.

That being said, I do feel there is a lot that can be done to improve support for women who breastfeed in Ireland. I have seen a positive change from 2007 when my first was born to 2013 when my third was born. But there’s still a lot more that can be done to help.


Breastfeeding in Ireland statistics (provided by ALCI)

According to the HSE, at year end December 2015, 53.8% of babies were breastfed at the time of their first Public Health Nurse visit. This percentage dropped to 35.5% of babies by the time they reached their 3 month PHN visit. In January this year, The Lancet published research, which showed Ireland has the lowest percentage of mothers who have breast-fed out of 27 high-income countries, at 55 per cent.

Obstacles to increasing breastfeeding include (provided by ALCI)

Gaps in knowledge among healthcare providers that leave women without access to accurate information or support; and lack of strong support systems among family and community, as well as cultural traditions unsupportive of breastfeeding.

The National Maternity Strategy also published earlier this year said “women reported receiving inconsistent, sometimes contradictory and poor quality information, and limited support on postnatal wards, with little or no access to lactation consultants.”

But help is available from the experts in Ireland – lactation consultants. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) provide help with the common issues that arise around breastfeeding such as latching, engorgement, over supply, and less commonly, low supply. In most cases the issues can be remedied given the right support and assistance at the right time.

The main goals of the ALCI are to provide education, communication, networking and support among International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and other health workers concerned with breastfeeding and human lactation. They aim to raise awareness of breastfeeding and human milk feeding as essential components for wealth, well-being and disease prevention. The ALCI also aims to act as an advisory body in relation to breastfeeding and human lactation issues that arise in the public domain through the provision of in depth knowledge and unbiased, evidenced based practice.

Tongue Tie

5-10% of babies have a frenulum (piece of tissue under their tongue) that’s less stretchy than normal. That can cause baby to have issues latching on & feeding properly. When babies cry their tongue should be straight up or straight out.

Signs that baby could have tongue tie include:

  1. If your baby has not regained birth weight by 10 days old, assessment by an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is a good idea. IBCLCs are in your maternity hospital, health centre or in private practice.

  2. By 3-4 weeks if your baby feeds every 1-2 hours and never seems satisfied, you might benefit from assessment. An IBCLC is the best person to assess if your baby has tongue restriction.

  3. Sometimes tight neck muscles can mimic a tongue tie. Sometimes when a baby has a forceps or vacuum birth it can affect how they suck and might mimic a tongue tie.

  4. Find additional information on tongue tie here.


For more information or if you have any questions at all regarding breastfeeding you can reach out to the ALCI for help! For Ireland find them on their website, Facebook & Twitter.  In the UK check out The Lactation Consultants of Great Britain & in the US find help at the International Lactation Consultant. Assocation.

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