A unique and touching photographic exhibition which showcases the extraordinary challenge of feeding babies has been unveiled at Carrickpherish Library this week to mark National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.
The theme for this year’s awareness week is “Expert help every step of the way”. 12 mothers from Waterford were invited to share their personal experience of their breastfeeding journey and generously submitted deeply personal photos of their families. Included were mothers who gave birth unexpectedly at 25 weeks at home with Domino midwifery team mothers who relied on breastfeeding during a storm when the electricity went out, and a mother who did a donation to the Enniskillen Milk Bank.
Speaking at the expo launch, UHW lactation consultant Claire Bulfin told UHW that staff are seeing breastfeeding rates of 63% at discharge. However, she added that breastfeeding has no place in the hospital, it belongs in our homes as it is part of real life. “You are the experts, I’m just the host. I thank all the mothers involved in this exhibition who gave so generously. This is real life, real struggles, real people and real success.
“We look forward to welcoming a Community Lactation Consultant to the community in the near future. This will ensure mothers have continued support throughout their breastfeeding journey,” she added.
Claire leads a group every Thursday as part of a prenatal education program at Carrickpherish Library. “I am delighted to work in conjunction with the Library Service and Healthy Ireland to bring collaborative care from the hospital to the community. The library is a really fantastic setting,” she said.
This is the first initiative of its kind in Ireland and Claire says the Carrickpherish space is ideal for hosting such a group. “Hospital space is extremely limited. People should only be hospitalized if they need clinical care. The ideal scenario is to have community centers where people can come and share information and knowledge. »
The group meets from 3 to 5 p.m. every Thursday and the number varies from 5 to 15.
“It’s really a hands-on approach,” says Claire. “We use model babies and breasts. Culturally, breastfeeding in Ireland has not been as high as in other countries. Although it’s normal and natural, it’s definitely a skill that needs to be learned.
Claire went on to say that while breastfeeding rates increase locally across the country, the HSE wants to continue to build on this progress by supporting any parents who may need help with their breastfeeding journey. “I look forward to colleagues taking on the new infant feeding/lactation roles across the country, and while not everyone will need their services, their support will make a big difference to parents who do.”
And there was plenty of help available, Claire said. “In addition to the new positions, we have breastfeeding preparation and prenatal classes, our public health midwives and nurses, and a growing number of in-person groups that are resuming after the pandemic. The Cuidiú organization (see www.Cuidiu.ie) has been fantastic, in addition to the library services.There are also a range of online resources such as virtual breastfeeding groups and mychild.ie, which offer practical advice on breastfeeding and live chat and email breastfeeding support service “Ask Our Expert”, available 7 days a week.
One of the mothers featured in the Waterford exhibit is Brianna Connaughton, who is also a Health Promotion and Improvement Officer with the Health and Wellbeing Division of HSE/South East Community Healthcare. In her testimony, Brianna says:
“Breastfeeding has been one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my parenting journey so far. I have been so grateful to have been able to feed my daughters Willow and Luna. The support and encouragement from my partner really got me through those times. With patience, perseverance, sleep and time, each feeding got better. We both learned a little bit more and within a few weeks we found our pace. As a family, it has bonded us – and shown us how resilient we are and how well we can all work together!”
Author Justine Dwyer The Munster Express [email protected] First for News