Why are Irish breastfeeding rates so low?
Is teaching children about breastfeeding going to help increase our national rates?
This was a suggestion put forward in the UK last week as World Breastfeeding Week took place.
Ireland is particularly in need of some good PR when it comes to breastfeeding as we have some of the lowest rates in the world.
It also appears that mums in more affluent urban areas are more inclined to breastfeed, compared with those living in smaller, rural communities.
This I fear is a great generalisation and the reality is that rates across the country need to increase and breastfeeding needs to be normalised.
We have all heard horror stories of mums being berated in public for feeding their babies but are these real or are they just urban legends doing the rounds?
If so they have been pretty effective in intimidating women into choosing not to breastfeed in public, for fear of negativity from others.
But it's not just all about what others think. Parents do what they think is best and if they as children have been conditioned to think that formula and bottle feeding is the most practical option for feeding, then naturally they will opt for that.
If a woman has seen her own mother bottle feed then why would she question that?
It is all about education and letting mothers know that they will have the right support if they choose to breastfeed. Equally educating future generations on the health benefits of breastfeeding will normalise it so that when they start having children of their own it is not a foreign concept or something that is the reserve of hippies or earth mother types.
Promoting breastfeeding is not in any way an attack on those who bottle feed because at the end of the day having a baby which is fed is best but it says a lot about society that many women feel that breastfeeding would not work for them.
We need to look at the reasons why it is not more widely embraced and celebrated in Ireland.
Why do so many women reach for the formula without even trying to breastfeed first and why do they feel that something that is natural, free and proven to be the healthiest option available to them is not the best choice for them?
New Ross Standard