Tuesday 28 January 2020

Calls to extend breaks for mothers to breastfeed

Leinster House (Stock picture)
Leinster House (Stock picture)

Niall O'Connor

Mothers should be allowed to take breastfeeding or pumping breaks for up to one year post birth, instead of the six month period currently in place.

The Government should also develop and fund a human donor milk bank in order to prevent the deaths of premature babies.

That's according to the Labour Party, which has published a new policy to mark World Breastfeeding Week 2017.

The paper, 'Supporting Mothers and Babies: A New Approach to Breastfeeding', outlines 14 proposals which are aimed at better supporting mothers and babies.

These include:

To ensure a minimum of one International Board Certification Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in each maternity hospital per 1,000 births, available at all hours, alongside dedicated support in neonatal and paediatric units;

To restore funding to the Baby Friendly Health Initiative;

To develop and fund a human donor milk bank.

To improve access for mothers to hospital grade pumps, and provide the option of one free visit at home from a qualified IBCLC.

In relation to the workplace, the party proposes the regulations are amended so it allows mothers to take breastfeeding or pumping breaks for up to one year post birth, up from the current limit of six months.

It also wants to see employers provide appropriate areas for breastfeeding mothers who express milk at work, in an environment which protects their health and safety.

The paper was produced by Dublin Bay South Senator Kevin Humphreys in collaboration with various stakeholders.

"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," Mr Humphreys said.

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.

"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."

Irish Independent

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