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17/10/2021

Laois declares 'We're Breastfeeding Friendly'

Laois Local Community and Development Committee (LCDC) supported by Healthy Ireland and Laois County Council launch breast feeding campaign

Laois declares 'We're Breastfeeding Friendly'

Jade Chawke & baby Charlie at the Portlaoise Parish Centre where they helped launch the Healthy Ireland- We're Breastfeeding Friendly Laois supported by Laois County Council. Pic: Denis Byrne

A new campanign called 'We're Breastfeeding Friendly Laois' is underway to encourage local families to embrace breastfeeding. 

 Laois Local Community and Development Committee (LCDC) , supported by Healthy Ireland and Laois County Council,  launched 'We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Laois' has lauched the campaign. They say it aims to help improve the health and wellbeing of breastfeeding mothers, babies and their families by encouraging businesses, organisations and community groups to become ‘Breastfeeding Friendly’. 

In seeking to meet those aims, the organisers say the campaign will: 

• Support business, community and public service settings to welcome breastfeeding mothers and families

• Support breastfeeding mothers and families to be active in the community

• Support parents during the key life transition of becoming a parent

• Support a strong culture of connectedness, - between agencies, communities and mother, family, baby, and community. More below picture.

Pictured: Anne Marie Kirrane, Senior Staff Officer, Laois County Council, Siobhan Hourigan,  Senior Health Promotion and Improvement Officer, HSE, Frank Feighan, Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing & the National Drugs Strategy, Julie Scully Healthy Ireland County Coordinator. Photo: Denis Byrne

By signing up to ‘We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Laois’, private, community and statutory organisations across Laois,  can show they welcome and support breastfeeding by some easy and zero-cost actions.

Any business, community group or organisation that has premises open to the general public is eligible to join. 

Hotels, community centres, sports and recreation facilities, restaurants, libraries or health centres can all fall under the breastfeeding friendly banner. 

The initiative is very simple and cost-free for a business, group or organisation to sign up to. In order to join, participants must fulfil certain criteria. 

Firstly, breastfeeding must be acceptable in all areas of their premises open to the public.  All staff members and volunteers are made aware and are supportive of the business, community group or organisation participating in the ‘We’re Breastfeeding Friendly’ campaign.   

The intention would be  that mothers breastfeeding in the premises, should not be asked to move to another area or stop breastfeeding. The public are made aware which premises are taking part, through the display of a ‘We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Laois’ window sticker and/or poster, that will be provided by Laois County Council.  It is not a requirement for premises to be adapted in any particular way. 

Businesses, community groups or organisations can choose to sign up individually or across a number of premises. 

To Sign up for “We're Breastfeeding Friendly Laois” initiative, please go to www.laois.ie and click on the link for the “Sign up” form . 

Pictured: Anne Marie Kirrane, Senior Staff Officer, Siobhan Hourigan,   Senior Health Promotion and Improvement Officer, HSE    Jade Chawke and Baby Charlie, Bukonla Samuel,  Julie Scully Healthy Ireland County Coordinator , Fr David Vard, C.C. Portlaoise Parish. Picture: Denis Byrne

Speaking at the launch of We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Laois by Minister of State Frank Feighan, Julie Scully, Healthy Laois Co-ordinator said the initiative came about as a result of the first Healthy Laois Plan 2018-2020 which had a specific action to promote breastfeeding in the County Laois. 

“We do know that initiation rates for breastfeeding in Portlaoise Hospital, a Baby Friendly Hospital, are at 59%, however this drops significantly over the following weeks.  There may be a sense that a non-breastfeeding mother can resume normal life more quickly after the birth of her new baby and there is an onus on us as a society that breastfeeding mothers also feel comfortable and confident in their everyday lives. 

"Research also tells us that the majority of mothers wished they had breastfed for longer.  The We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Laois initiative is inviting businesses, community and voluntary groups to sign up to make breastfeeding mothers and their families feel welcome throughout the county,” she said.

Claire Fitzpatrick is a Clinical Midwife Specialist in Lactation at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise. She fully backed the project.

"This is a brilliant campaign and we are wholeheartedly behind it.  I’m delighted to say that breastfeeding initiation rates in Laois  are improving steadily and now hitting 59.% which is extremely positive. There are lots of support groups in Laois , like La Leche League and Cuidiú for women to get help, at what is a very special time in their life as a new mother.

"But this extra layer to encourage support for mothers and babies , has the potential to make the experience around breastfeeding better for babies, mothers and those using public spaces," she said. MORE BELOW PICTURE.

Pictured: Amna Naveed and baby Abrahim. Picture: Michael Scully

Speaking at the launch, Amna Naveed, a breast-feeding mother from Portlaoise, welcomed the initiative.

“It supports mothers and highlights the  importance of breastfeeding for the healthy growth and development of a baby.  I'm really pleased that Laois County Council have had the foresight to develop this campaign.  This is a hugely positive and progressive move that will benefit new mums and babies in Laois,” she said.

Joan Bolger, Manager of Portlaoise Family Resource Centre, is part of the Breastfeeding Friendly Laois Steering Group and Initiative.

"As a family support, community based project, we want parents and in particularly breastfeeding mums to feel welcome to feed their babies, when they are with us. Throughout the whole Treo Nua Centre and Coffee Shop, we want breastfeeding mums to feel welcome, valued and supported. It’s so important to have a nurturing environment”

Brid Brophy from  La Leche League Portlaoise Group wished the We’re Breastfeeding Friendly initiative every success.

"It is wonderful to see an initiative that acknowledges a mother and baby’s right to breastfeed in any public place where families are welcome. We would urge places like this to strive to go further and create comfortable and supportive environments in Laois where they can do so”

Margaret Sheeran , Breastfeeding Counsellor Cuidiù praised the project.

"We are excited to support and also be a part of an amazing initiative that supports and welcomes mothers and infants to breastfeed in their local communities. It is imperative that breastfeeding mothers are acknowledged and welcomed in order to support, normalise and promote the breastfeeding relationship and the future of breastfeeding. 

"We hope that in the future both breastfeeding mothers, local businesses and communities will embrace this initiative and it will continue to evolve and grow from strength to strength," she said. MORE BELOW PICTURE.

Pictured: Georgina and John Carey, Solas Eco Garden Centre, Portarlington. PICTURE: Michael Scully

Georgina Carey at the Solas Eco Garden Centre in Portarlington helped to launch the prgramme.

"Breastfeeding is the most economical and environmentally friendly way to feed an infant. There is no food more locally produced, more sustainable or more environmentally friendly than breastmilk.

"As well as providing the best nutrition for baby and health benefits for mum and baby , breastfeeding is also saving our environment.  We are delighted to be involved in promoting and supporting breastfeeding mums in Laois”.

Laura McHugh, National Breastfeeding Co-ordinator, HSE congratulated  all involved in in creating welcoming and supportive public places and spaces for new parents breastfeeding in their community.

"The HSE provides hospital and community based support for breastfeeding and others like La Leche league and Cuidiú also provide a vital service in communities connecting mothers and providing expert guidance to enable mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish. The leadership shown through We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Laois initiative in promoting and normalising breastfeeding has the potential to make the experience around breastfeeding better for babies, mothers and those using public spaces,” she said. MORE BELOW PICTURE.

Pictured: Julie Scully Healthy Ireland County Coordinator, Dan Bergin , Laois PPN Resource Worker, Amna Naveed and Baby Abrahim, Anne Marie Kirrane, Senior Staff Officer, Laois County Council and Bríd Brophy, La Leche League Portlaoise Group. Picture: Michael Scully.

Launching the initiative Minister Frank Feighan said that he welcomed what he said would be an important initiative and the many supports that are provided throughout Co Laois to promote breastfeeding, and enhance the health and wellbeing of our children.

"We are working to promote, support and protect breastfeeding in Ireland. It is important that our environments support breastfeeding also," said the Minisiter with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy.  

Laois County Council' Cathaoirleach, Cllr Conor Bergin was proud to be part of the launch. 

"The ‘We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Laois’ campaign is really about our youngest citizens, our babies across all of Laois. It is not a breastfeeding promotional campaign but rather a campaign that is focusing on the environment around babies and mothers being friendly and welcoming to breastfeeding.  It’s also about making those in that environment, fully at ease with breastfeeding”. 

"Think of the many public places and spaces that new parents may go in and out of – customer services here in this building, health centre, GP surgeries, pharmacies, hotels, restaurants, community centres, sports and leisure facilities, libraries, offices, indoor play centres, churches/places of worship and so on.  We’re Breastfeeding Friendly is seeking to make all of these venues friendly to breastfeeding," he said. MORE BELOW PICTURE

Pictured: Cllr Conor Bergin, Cathaoirleach, Laois County Council. Pic: Robert Metelicka

As Chair of the Local Community and Development Committee (LCDC), Cllr Paschal Mc Evoy said he was delighted to support this Healthy Ireland initiative, that breastfeeding mothers are acknowledged and welcomed this hugely positive and progressive move that will benefit new mums and babies in Laois.

Fr David Vard, C.C., Portlaoise Parish said “We are delighted to say that we are, as a Parish, Breastfeeding friendly and welcoming of all people”

For more information on breastfeeding and breastfeeding supports available. See www.breastfeeding.ie  www.mychild.ie  www.lalecheleagueireland.com www.cuidiu.ie 

More below picture.

Pictured: Julie Scully Healthy Ireland County Coordinator, Geraldine Sara Rasool , ICCI Al Rahman House, Amna Naveed and Baby Abrahim, Javaria Naveed, Anne Marie Kirrane, Senior Staff Officer, Laois County Council. Pic: Renata Metelicka

Healthy Ireland is a Government-led initiative which aims to create an Irish society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society.

Many of the factors that influence a person’s health and wellbeing, such as their early years, education level, income, housing, and work conditions are determined by social, environmental and economic policies beyond the direct responsibility of the health sector.

A key focus of Healthy Ireland is on building relationships and strengthening partnerships between Government departments, Local authorities, Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs), education providers and the wider business, voluntary, community and statutory sectors. 

We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Laois,  is an exciting example of such partnership working.

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