Archive for the ‘Breastfeeding In the news’ Category

I breastfed my daughter until she was six . . .

January 20th, 2010

It’s still a taboo subject, but Sue Leonard discovers why many mothers give children time to self-wean.

We’re getting used to the sight of young mums breastfeeding in public, but how would you react if the ‘baby’ being fed was five — or even older?

Ann Sinnott, from Cambridge, breastfed her daughter until she was six and a half years old. Believing that all children should, ideally, be allowed to choose when breastfeeding ceases, Ann set out to explore international attitudes to this somewhat taboo practice.

In her book, Breast-feeding Older Children, she questioned women, men and children from 48 countries via the internet, and she found that breastfeeding until a child is three, six, nine, or even 11 is a growing phenomenon.

Why, though, did she write her book?

“My aim was to support mums who are long-term breastfeeding, and to show them they are not alone,” she says.

“I’d like to educate health professionals, because the damage their negative comments can do is incalculable.

“If, as a result of my book, more mums breastfeed their babies for a year, I’ll be happy. If they breastfeed until the child is two I’ll be happier still, and if they allow they child to self-wean I’ll be happiest of all.”

Ann aimed to challenge the negative perceptions of many psychologists who contend that breastfed older children are emotionally damaged.

“Breastfed children are happy. They rarely cry because their needs are being met. My daughter, at six, was serene and incredibly independent, yet she had the need to continue breastfeeding. I went along with her until she was ready to stop.”–she-was-six-2020741.html

Breastfeeding In the news

Longer nursing may aid kids’ mental health

January 19th, 2010

Breastfeeding for 6 months or more may reduce issues, study suggests

Children who are breastfed for longer than six months could be at lower risk of mental health problems later in life, new research from Australia suggests.

“Breastfeeding for a longer duration appears to have significant benefits for the onward mental health of the child into adolescence,” Dr. Wendy H. Oddy of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in West Perth and her colleagues report in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Breastfeeding could help babies cope better with stress, the researchers note, and may also signal a stronger mother-child attachment and these benefits may last.

Oddy and her colleagues studied 2,366 children born to women enrolled the Western Australia Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. Each of the children underwent a mental health assessment when they were 2, 5, 8, 10, and 14 years old.

Eleven percent were never breastfed, 38 percent were breastfed for less than six months, and just over half were breastfed for six months or longer.

The mothers who breastfed for less than six months were younger, less educated, poorer, and more stressed, and were also more likely to be smokers, than the moms who breastfed for longer. They were also more likely to suffer from postpartum depression, and their babies were more likely to have growth problems.

At each of the assessments, the researchers found, children who were breastfed for shorter periods of time had worse behavior. Differences were seen for internalizing behavior, in which negativity is directed inwards, for example depression; and in externalizing behaviors, such as aggression.

For each additional month a child was breastfed, behavior improved.

Breastfeeding for six months or longer remained positively associated with the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents after the investigators adjusted for social, economic and psychological factors as well as early life events.

They conclude: “Interventions aimed at increasing breastfeeding duration could be of long-term benefit for child and adolescent mental health.”

Copyright 2010 Reuters

Breastfeeding In the news, Breastfeeding Info

Breastfeeding: Make the breast of it

January 19th, 2010


Thursday November 12 2009

EMER McInerney, founder of pregnancy and breastfeeding website, breastfed two of her children until the age of three and has noticed an improvement in terms of support available to women since she started seven years ago.

McInerney has three girls – Sophie pharmacies (seven), Saibh (five) and Tamsin (three). “I fed two of my children at the same time for a year and it took a lot out of me, so I only fed the second one until the age of two. Luck­ily I never really had any problems, apart from the odd blocked duct, which can be helped by putting a hot face cloth on the area,” she says.

“You tend to get different advice from dif­ferent people – for example, some nurses might say you should feed for 45 minutes each side, while others will say you should swap over every 10 minutes – so I decided to stick with what one midwife told me and got all the other information I needed from books.”

As McInerney notes, there’s a lot more help available to new mothers now compared with a decade ago. In recent months, a doc­tor and a breastfeeding mum have set up a website called for example, and a group of mothers who met on online parenting forums have got together to form Friends of Breastfeeding, with the aim of making breastfeeding easier in Ireland.

The health benefits of breastfeeding are well documented, and McInerney says she hardly ever has to go to the doctor with her girls. “Tamsin has never been on antibiotics and the three of them haven’t had a cold for over a year. Sophie was diagnosed with asthma, which is hereditary, but her symptoms have been very mild. I believe it’s because she was breastfed. She hasn’t had to use her inhaler for three years.”

What do you need?

Before the birth McInerney advises getting fit­ted for a good nursing bra, but bear in mind your shape will change over the following months. “Your breasts will get bigger, by two cup sizes or more, but they will then get smaller after a few weeks. For this reason, a bra which has room to expand and shrink is the best bet.”

Bring good nipple creams and balms for your hospital stay to help with any cracking, and McInerney also recommends the Multi Mam Compress, which you leave on the area for five minutes.

When you come home, a good nursing pil­low will help prevent back pain and positions the baby at the breast so the latch-on is right. If you’re having supply issues, there are herbs and special teas you can take. McInerney says nursing covers are also popular right now. You simply put them around your neck like an apron and they give you complete coverage.

Regarding breast pumps, McInerney says they’re not really an essential. “You’re not supposed to pump until about six weeks when your milk is established. New mums tend to think they need a pump, spend money on one in the start and then never use it. They are great though if you want to go out for an evening or are going back to work.”

She recalls having to pump for 20 minutes in the toilets of her previous workplace and then store the breast milk in the fridge. “One day I found someone had put a paper bag over it, so I had to use freezer bags after that!”

Breastfeeding In the news

‘I felt like a failure when I couldn’t breastfeed my son’

September 30th, 2009

A new group helps out mums who find breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally, writes Siobhan O’Neill-White

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I immersed my-self in preparing for the birth through yoga, reflexology, ante-natal classes, reading books and writing a birth plan.

My preparation was all about the birth. I practised my breathing daily and updated my birth plan regularly. It was only after my baby arrived that I realised I had not prepared myself for feeding him.

After a difficult birth which included an episiotomy, forceps, stirrups and a vacuum, I was shredded — emotionally and physically.

According to the books I had read, I was supposed to immediately bond with this little person. Instead I felt exhausted and unsure. I knew I wanted to breastfeed but had no clue how to; it simply did not come naturally to me.

We got off to a bad start; after the birth, he was with his daddy for 45 minutes while I was cleaned and stitched. In hindsight, I should have had him placed on my chest but I was in such shock I said nothing. The first hour of a baby’s life is important to establish breastfeeding but we missed that window and by the time he was placed in my arms, he was nodding off.

My son also had the bad luck of being born on a bank holiday, with no breastfeeding consultants around. Unfortunately, the busy nurses did not have time to show me how to breastfeed either and after a long day of trying unsuccessfully, mostly alone, a nurse handed me a bottle.

I was horrified. I was trying to give my baby what I believed was the best start in life and, instead of supporting me, the nurses fobbed me off with a bottle of formula. Initially I refused but the nurse said my baby was very hungry and, because I could not feed him myself, suggested it would be cruel not to give the bottle.

I relented but still kept trying to breastfeed for the next 10 days, albeit with little success.

Unfortunately, my mother, gran and aunts did not breastfeed because their generation were not encouraged to, so I had no one to show me how. On top of this, the advice I received, from the nurses and public- health official, was conflicting and confusing.

In the end, I expressed breast milk into bottles for 14 weeks. It was a compromise: he got the milk we wanted him to have but I lost out on being able to give it to him the way I wanted.

I missed out on the bonding and ease of feeding without bottles and sterilisers. It was upsetting and I felt like a failure. The one thing I should have been able to do was feed my child but I could not.

What I now realise is that breastfeeding does not come naturally to everyone. I’ve spoken to many mothers who had a similar experience and it seems we all had problems because we were not taught how to feed or helped when we tried.

The advice new mothers are given — whether it comes from the hospital, public-health nurse or GP — lacks consistency, causes confusion and leads to mothers giving up breastfeeding because they cannot find a way through.

Breastfeeding is a bit like riding a bike. You wouldn’t just hop on a bike for the first time and cycle off by yourself. You need someone to show you how to do it. You need someone to encourage you, until you are ready for the stabilisers to come off.

Enter a new group called ‘Friends of Breastfeeding’, a bunch of mums from around Ireland who are working with the HSE to ensure new mothers get proper advice and support to enable them to breastfeed.

Mary Eileen Lalor, spokesperson for the group, says: “Our goal is to do whatever we can to help mothers who want to breastfeed get the support they need to have the experience they want. At present, 47pc of mothers start out breastfeeding, but this figure drops to just 3pc by four months. We want to promote mothers’ confidence in their own ability to provide exclusively for their baby — which is one of the main obstacles stopping more mothers breastfeeding for longer.”

Mary, a mum of two from Co Wexford, did not get the necessary support when she started breastfeeding and is hoping the Friends of Breastfeeding group can address this problem. She explains: “Maureen Fallon, the national breastfeeding co- ordinator within the HSE, is very supportive of our organisation and what we want to achieve. By working with her, we can influence the advice new mothers are given.”

As well as helping mothers, Mary believes Friends of Breastfeeding can have a positive influence on the image of breastfeeding in Ireland, “Breastfeeding needs to be recognised for what it is, no big deal, just a mother feeding her baby. It is something which can be done whenever and wherever needed.

“Also, there is a stereotype regarding the type of woman who breastfeeds and it needs to be recognised that breastfeeding can suit all situations and parenting styles.”

Mum of four Melanie Kialka-Power from Co Meath reckons breastfeeding is the easy option, once you know how. Melanie breastfed all her children but admits it was not easy at first.

“I felt awkward when I started, especially feeding outside my home. I remember being out one day with a friend who is quite modest. My baby started crying and I felt uncomfortable about feeding her but the crying soon changed my mind. My friend was embarrassed but my baby needed to be fed, so I just got on with it.”

Now, with baby number four in her arms, it’s clear Melanie is an expert. She says: “I sometimes feed while I’m walking. I’m so busy with four children that I hardly sit down anymore! Just recently I was in the supermarket and Isaac needed to be fed so I popped him the boob as I shopped. He was in a baby sling, so we were very discreet. I bumped into an old friend and he peeked over to see the baby and got a bit of a surprise when he saw Isaac feeding away. After he got over the initial shock, we had a good giggle over it.”

With groups like Friends of Breastfeeding growing nationwide, let’s hope future new mums who want to breastfeed, get consistent and relevant advice so they can master it and give their baby the ultimate in fast food!

For information about the Friends of Breastfeeding group, email

Breastfeeding In the news

55% of new mothers breastfeed

September 30th, 2009

Women born outside of Ireland are more likely to start breastfeeding than Irish mothers, according to a new study.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) survey, which has been released to coincide with the launch of National Breastfeeding Week, reveals that 55 per cent of all new mothers surveyed said they put  breastfed their baby after birth.

However, a breakdown of the figures reveals that while 76 per cent of mothers born outside of the country started breastfeeding, only 50 per cent of Irish-born mothers did.

The National Infant Feeding Survey was undertaken on behalf of the HSE by Trinity College Dublin.

It shows that just 42 per cent of all mothers were still exclusively breastfeeding by the time they left hospital following the birth of their child. This is considerably lower than in many other countries. In Norway, 99 per cent of women who began breastfeeding were still doing so by the time they returned home. In Denmark and Italy, 98 per cent and 91 per cent of mothers respectively were still breastfeeding on their departure from hospital.

Regional differences were also apparent in the study with the highest breastfeeding initiation rate recorded in Dublin South East, where 78 per cent of new mothers put their babies to their breast, compared to just 38 per cent in counties Waterford and Louth.

Just over 30 per cent of women surveyed said that breastfeeding was not discussed with them during their pregnancy.

The survey also found that women whose friends breastfed were more likely to do the same, as were those who had themselves been breastfed. There was also an increased likelihood of breastfeeding among mothers who had attended antenatal classes prior to the birth of their child.

The most common reasons given for discontinuing breastfeeding early were incompatibility with lifestyle, perceived insufficient milk supply and ack of facilities/discomfort with feeding in public.

Breastfeeding In the news

Swedish bloke attempts lactation

September 14th, 2009

A Swedish dad who hopes he might in future be able to help out his missus in the breastfeeding department has embarked on a rigorous programme of moob-pumping to entice vital nourishment from his chest.

Ragnar Bengtsson, 26, has begun “stimulating his breasts with a pump” at three-hour intervals, and will continue to do so until December for the viewing pleasure of audiences of TV8, which is documenting the audacious experiment.

Bengtsson told The Local: “Anything that doesn’t do any harm is worth trying out. And if it works it could prove very important for men’s ability to get much closer to their children at an early stage.”

He added: “If it works and the milk turns out to have a high nutritional value it could be a real breakthrough.”

Breastfeeding In the news

It’s World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7th

August 2nd, 2009

Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response
Are you ready?


  • To draw attention to the vital role that breastfeeding plays in emergencies worldwide.
  • To stress the need for active protection and support of breastfeeding before and during emergencies.
  • To inform mothers, breastfeeding advocates, communities, health professionals, governments, aid agencies, donors, and the media on how they can actively support breastfeeding before and during an emergency.
  • To mobilise action and nurture networking and collaboration between those with breastfeeding skills and those involved in emergency response.


  • Children are the most vulnerable in emergencies – child mortality can soar from 2 to 70 times higher than average due to diarrhoea, respiratory illness and malnutrition.
  • Breastfeeding is a life saving intervention and protection is greatest for the youngest infants. Even in non-emergency settings, non-breastfed babies under 2 months of age are six times more likely to die.
  • Emergencies can happen anywhere in the world. Emergencies destroy what is ‘normal,’ leaving caregivers struggling to cope and infants vulnerable to disease and death.
  • During emergencies, mothers need active support to continue or re-establish breastfeeding.
  • Emergency preparedness is vital. Supporting breastfeeding in non-emergency settings will strengthen mothers’ capacity to cope in an emergency.

Breastfeeding In the news, Breastfeeding Info

‘Breastfeeding is one of the pure joys of motherhood’

April 17th, 2009

By Katie Gunn

The star of Confessions of a Shopaholic Isla Fisher has admitted that she is “addicted” to breastfeeding. The actress, who is still feeding her 16-month-old daughter Olive, joked that she will only stop when her daughter leaves home and goes to university — she simply can’t bear the thought of giving it up.

I can relate to that. My first child, Kaya, was born in 2004, and having been fortunate enough not to have experienced any problems, I continued to feed her until she was almost two — and I only stopped as I was almost five months pregnant with her brother Marley. I hadn’t pre-planned feeding to that length; the truth was, that once I had started I simply didn’t want to stop.

That’s not to say I was a long-term breastfeeding martyr. I had no problem giving a bottle when needed, using a dummy, eating whatever I fancied, or, I must admit, having the odd drink or two. All of which, for me, made the whole process a lot less debilitating.

Currently, I’m breastfeeding my third child Baxter, who is six months old, and am happy to carry on until both he and I are ready to stop.

Many of the positive effects of breastfeeding for mother and child are widely known, such as more rapid bonding, and the numerous health benefits.

Research has shown that children who are breastfed have lower rates of pneumonia, bronchitis, colds, meningitis, asthma, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome. They are also less likely to become overweight, to develop breast cancer, allergies or diabetes. That’s quite a list.

Other advantages include the fact that there are no costs involved, that there are no bottles to be made up daily and brought everywhere the baby goes, and there is no need for emergency planning. Electricity gone? No problem. Locked out of the house? Go to a cafe. It’s one less thing to worry about.

Another added benefit is the fabulous fact of quick and easy weight loss for the mother, which I can certainly attest to.

In fact, and forgive me for this, no matter how much I eat whilst breastfeeding I simply cannot put on weight. It is estimated that breastfeeding burns approximately 600 calories every day — just imagine how much gym-time that equates to.

It seems, however, that not all young women in Ireland are swayed by the long list of benefits. A new survey carried out at the Coombe hospital — due to be published in Public Health Nutrition later this year — found that only one of the 401 Irish women taking part in the study was exclusively breastfeeding her baby for six months.

The result of the study mirrors previous reports that put Ireland at the bottom of the European ladder for breastfeeding rates, with only a paltry 3pc of mothers still breastfeeding by the time their child is four months old.

Perhaps of even more concern is that only 31pc of Irish mothers choose to breastfeed their babies at all, in comparison to 99pc of mothers in Norway, and 98pc in Denmark.

The World Health Organisation‘s guidelines are that we should exclusively breastfeed for six months and then continue feeding for up to two years.

So why do so many Irish mothers choose to bottle-feed, when only 1pc of our Norwegian counterparts do?

Lack of support, initial pain, and sleepless nights are often touted as reasons for mothers turning to the bottle, and while this may be the case for those who try to breastfeed but tragically find that they can’t, these women do not account for those who make that initial decision that they’d rather bottle-feed than breastfeed.

This latest study found that the greatest barriers to Irish mothers was embarrassment about breastfeeding in a bottle-feeding culture and a lack of encouragement from families.

So it would seem that the main barrier here in Ireland is simply our mind-set.

Having talked to numerous mothers over the years on the subject, I would have to agree. One woman told me she wouldn’t breastfeed as “it makes your boobs saggy” (not true — see panel); one said “my husband doesn’t want to share them”; and rather sadly, another said “my mother-in-law says it’s disgusting”.

Our attitude here is heavily influenced by advertising that promotes bottle feeding, which naturally leads to more mothers choosing this option, which in turn standardises bottle-feeding among friends, family and the next generation.

While the Scandinavian countries have little or no formula advertising, in Ireland a huge proportion of the health information for babies is provided for, or sponsored by, formula and baby food manufacturers.

Sign up to one of the many online pregnancy sites or baby clubs and you are bombarded with coupons, free samples and product information. Mothers do not spend money on breastfeeding, so there is nothing to sell — and therefore no money to be made from it.

Perhaps we need to think harder about some of the small steps that can make a real difference. At the moment, most mothers are too embarrassed to feed in public, and many feel the same among friends and family. When was the last time you saw a mother breastfeeding?

Over the years I have fed my three children discreetly; everywhere from supermarket car parks to playgrounds, shopping centres and restaurants. All I have ever experienced when feeding in public is a quick glance, and an even quicker glance away, or an encouraging smile from another mother.

By challenging people’s perceptions and showing those who are a little more inhibited that it is, in fact, a natural and normal way of life, perhaps more mothers would follow suit.

And they have outspoken role models in the form of actresses Isla Fisher, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie, who all publicly promote breastfeeding. My advice to soon-to-be mothers would be to just try it — to whatever extent feels right for you. It does not have to be an all or nothing choice.

If you decide it is just not working for you, then you can simply stop. Nothing lost. But just look at all you have to gain if you suddenly discover, as I did, that it is one of the pure joys of motherhood.

Breastfeeding In the news

Irish mothers ‘embarrassed to breast-feed’

March 28th, 2009


Irish women are failing to breast-feed their babies for the recommended six months because they lack encouragement and, in many cases, find it too embarrassing, according to a new study.

Only one of the 401 Irish women tracked at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital exclusively breast-fed her baby for six months, as recommended by the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health.

The study, which also examined the practices of 49 foreign mothers at the hospital, is the biggest ever conducted on the feeding of infants in Ireland, said Roslyn Tarrant, the paediatric dietician who carried out the research. Tarrant said her findings, to be published in Public Health Nutrition later this year, show breast-feeding rates have improved little in Ireland over the last decade.

She examined the feeding practices of the 450 women between 2004 and 2006 and discovered that while 47% of Irish women began breast-feeding their babies after birth, just 28% were doing so four weeks later. By the time the babies were six months old, just 9.6% of the Irish women were breast-feeding partially, and only one woman was feeding her baby entirely with breastmilk.

By contrast, 79.6% of the foreign women who gave birth at the hospital began nursing their child straight away. That rate slipped to 75% after four weeks but by six months after birth, half of the foreign mothers were still breast-feeding.

The rate of breast-feeding in Norway is 99%, in Denmark 98% and in Sweden 97%, aided by greater cultural acceptance for nursing mothers and hospital support. The greatest barriers to Irish mothers was embarrassment about breast-feeding in a bottle-feeding culture and a lack of encouragement from families, the study said. Also, mothers had too little time to breast-feed when they returned to work. “There are lots of campaigns out there to raise awareness about the benefits of breast-feeding but the mothers we talked to said they felt they couldn’t do it in public because restaurants were not supportive of it and neither were employers,” Tarrant said.

“Back in the 1950s, we had one of the lowest breast-feeding rates in Europe and it doesn’t look like it’s improved.” Last October, the Department of Social and Family Affairs had to apologise to a woman who was told to stop breastfeeding in a social-welfare office, after she filed a complaint with the Equality Tribunal.

“If there was more breastfeeding the government would save money because there would be fewer hospital admissions and fewer visits to GPs because the babies would be less sick,” Tarrant said.

“Formula will never be an exact copy of breast milk and doesn’t have the antibodies to protect the immune system that breast milk has. Leptin in breast milk modifies the baby’s appetite and that is linked to decreased obesity levels in later life.”

Breastfeeding In the news

Facebook Pulls Breastfeeding Pictures

December 31st, 2008

Mothers have launched an online campaign and held a protest at Facebook headquarters after the website removed photographs of breastfeeding.

The pictures have been reported as “obscene” and taken off the site, according to the creators of the petition group which has more than 90,000 members. The group organised a virtual nurse-in, which they claim more than 11,000 people took part in, and held a demonstration outside Facebook’s offices in Palo Alto, California.

Members who posted the photos were warned not to add them again or they face being kicked off Facebook, the group said. But the website defended the move, saying it takes no action over most breastfeeding photos because they follow its terms of use. However, others – where too much of a mother’s breast are exposed – are removed to ensure the site remains safe and secure for all users, including children, a spokesman confirmed.

Facebook’s decision angered some users and led to the creation of protest group “Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!”

On its page the group says: “We’re wondering: what about a baby breastfeeding is obscene? Especially in comparison to MANY other pictures posted all over Facebook that really are obscene.”

The group directed users to an alternative website where some of the banned breastfeeding photos have been reposted.

Banned December 29, 2008.
Banned December 29, 2008.

Madeleine, a few hours old. Her mother (Anne Hinze) took this photo. She’s a certificated lactation counsellor and educator in northwestern Florida. Read her enlightening essay, “On Breastfeeding and Obscenity,” here. 

I hope she doesn’t mind me reproducing her photo here and it won’t be banned on this blog 🙂

Breastfeeding In the news ,