Portlaoise hospital latching on to importance of skin-to-skin during National Breastfeeding Week

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The Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise celebrated the first day of National Breastfeeding Week, the theme of which is ‘Every Breastfeed Makes a Difference.’

The Hospital hosted an afternoon celebration on October 1 with local mums and babies. In addition, the Friends of Portlaoise Hospital presented the Director of Midwifery, Maureen Revilles with the donation of a breast pump and two armchairs suitable for mothers particularly if they are breastfeeding.

“We are delighted to be able provide these much needed supports for mothers and their babies. Thank you to the people of Portlaoise for their continued support of Friends of Portlaoise Hospital,” said Mr Tommy Timmons

The Midwives in Portlaoise Hospital would like to let mothers and mothers-to-be, and their families, know about the importance of skin-to-skin contact after birth in helping to get breastfeeding off to a good start and what supports are available on mychild.ie, an initiative of the HSE.

To highlight these important messages, all women giving birth in Portlaoise Hospital from the until October 7will receive an information pack and a reusable water bottle.

Maureen Revilles, Director of Midwifery at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise said: “ I would like to thank all the mothers for attending our awareness event today. We are also very grateful to the Friends of Portlaoise Hospital for their generous donations. We know that skin-to-skin contact for at least an hour immediately after birth helps get breastfeeding off to a good start.

Claire Fitzpatrick, MRHP Clinical Midwife Specialist Lactation explains that by placing the baby unclothed directly onto their mother’s chest immediately after birth for at least an hour, most babies will naturally seek out and feed at the breast. Some babies will need more time and assistance to initiate feeding. Skin-to-skin contact also helps mothers to recognise and respond to their baby’s signals and stimulates the release of hormones to support bonding and breastfeeding

Other benefits of skin-to-skin contact after birth include: helping the baby adjust to life outside the womb; calming and relaxing for both mother and baby; regulating the baby’s temperature and keeping them warm; getting mothers familiar with their baby’s signals and bonding with their baby; and passing on good bacteria from the mothers skin to the baby’s skin to help protect against infection.

“Your birth partner can also take part in skin-to-skin contact to bond with the baby, if the mother is needing medical attention immediately after the birth. This skin-to-skin contact will be calming for babies and the cuddles also help them to bond,” said Ms Fitzpatrick

The HSE are reporting that the practice of skin-to-skin contact after birth is widespread across our maternity services with 86 per cent of all babies receiving skin-to-skin contact after birth.

The latest data also shows that 60 per cent of babies in Ireland are breastfed on leaving hospital.  This is an increase of 10 per cent in the last ten years.

National Breastfeeding Week takes place from October 1 - 7. Over 100 events will take place from coffee mornings to support group activities, and even a visit by breastfeeding mums and their babies to Áras an Uactaráin – to celebrate how everyone can support mothers to breastfeed. To find out about an event in your area, contact your local breastfeeding support group, details of which are on mychild.ie. 

To join the HSE parenting and breastfeeding community, see the HSE mychild.ie Facebook page and hse_mychild on Instagram #hsemychild #breastfeeding #breastfeedingweek