Labour Party Calls for more supports for Breastfeeding Mothers

02 August 2017

To mark World Breastfeeding Week 2017, Senator Kevin Humphreys has today launched a new Labour Party policy paper, ‘Supporting Mothers and Babies: A New Approach to Breastfeeding’. The paper was produced in collaboration with Labour Party members, with input from a broad range of stakeholder groups.

Senator Humphreys said:

“Having heard first hand from mothers the difficulties they encountered in getting the supports they needed when breastfeeding, over the last few months we have consulted with a range of groups to find out what can be done to better support mothers and babies.

“The paper we have published today has 14 key recommendations, including ensuring that enough qualified IBC Lactation Consultations are available to all mothers in our hospitals, alongside access to the equipment and resources they may need.

“Funding should also be restored to the Baby Friendly Health Initiative to ensure Irish maternity hospitals are up to international standards.

“We recommend that a human donor milk bank should also be established in the Republic of Ireland, outline the importance of meeting agreed staffing levels, and detail a series of measures to build a more supportive culture.

“In the workplace, we believe mothers should have the right to breastfeed or express for up to one year after the birth of their child, up from the current six months. Employers should also ensure they provide appropriate areas for mothers.

“We also believe that the marketing restrictions on formula milk and other breastmilk substitutes should be extended from six months to one year of age,” concluded Senator Humphreys.

Labour Party member Loraine Mulligan said:

“My breastfeeding journey began nearly three years ago. I was lucky to get good support from a trained lactation consultant. Without this, I might have given up. I also went to weekly meetings of my local Cuidiú breastfeeding group. It was very reassuring to have this back-up and to share experiences and knowledge with other mums.

“It is significant that the Labour Party is putting forward a plan to increase breastfeeding in Ireland. Unless the issue is put on the political agenda and raised in public discourse existing obstacles will remain. It will take a political impetus to ensure the necessary measures and resources are put in place.

“Labour is taking an important step to raise awareness and debate. Women should be able to make an empowered choice about whether or not to breastfeed – the decision should not be determined by a lack of supports.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The full policy document is available here:

https://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/breastfeeding_policy_2017_final.pdf

What the Labour Party is recommending: the key measures

In our Healthcare System
1. Ensure a minimum of one Lactation Consultant with International Board Certification (IBCLC) in each maternity hospital per 1,000 births, available at all hours, alongside dedicated support in neonatal and paediatric units.

2. Restore funding to the Baby Friendly Health Initiative.

3. Develop and fund a human donor milk bank in the Republic of Ireland.

4. Improve access for mothers to hospital grade pumps, and provide the option of one free visit at home from a qualified IBC Lactation Consultant.

5. Meet staffing level targets for midwives, paediatric and public health nurses, and ensure all healthcare professionals receive breastfeeding training both in the workplace, and during their time as students.

6. Provide one extra ante-natal GP visit for mothers focused on preparing for breastfeeding, and ensure consistent access countrywide to ante-natal classes.

7. Provide an online information service with up to date research regarding medications and treatments when breastfeeding, for all GPs, hospitals and pharmacies.

In our Workplaces
8. Amend the regulations to allow mothers to take breastfeeding or pumping breaks for up to one year post birth, up from the current limit of six months post birth.

9. Ensure that employers provide appropriate areas for breastfeeding mothers who express milk at work, in an environment which protects their health and safety.

Building a Supportive Culture
10. Update, monitor and enforce the regulations on marketing restrictions on baby formula milk, and other breast milk substitutes.

11. Recruit regional breastfeeding coordinators.

12. Allocate more resources to mother-to-mother and health worker led breastfeeding support groups.

13. Publish a new consistent educational leaflet through the HSE and National Coordinator replacing all other pamphlets in circulation.

14. Ensure our education system, curriculum, and materials reflect and promote the benefits and value of breastfeeding.

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