Tender touch: Mums urged to encourage breast feeding
New mothers have been urged to get to know their baby through skin-to-skin contact after birth in a bid to start breastfeeding.
The advice from HSE experts came yesterday as National Breastfeeding Week was launched with a revamped website, mychild.ie, aimed at providing guidance to nursing mums.
Laura McHugh, HSE national breastfeeding coordinator, said: "We know that skin-to-skin contact for at least an hour immediately after birth helps get breastfeeding off to a good start. The good news is that we now know that the practise of skin-to-skin contact after birth is widespread across our maternity services."
Placing an unclothed baby directly on to a mother's chest immediately after birth for at least an hour will mean the infant will naturally seek out and feed at the breast.
She said some babies will need longer to start feeding but skin-to-skin contact also has the advantage of allowing a mother to respond to the baby's signals, stimulating the release of hormones to support bonding and breastfeeding.
New evidence from hospitals indicted 86pc of all healthy term babies receive skin-to-skin contact after birth.
Around six in 10 babies are breastfed leaving hospital, a rise of just 10pc in the last decade. Physical discomfort, worries that the baby is not getting enough nourishment, difficulties breastfeeding in public and return to work can all mean many women find it hard to sustain it over several months.