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Meet the Mommies - National Breastfeeding Week

National Breastfeeding Week

Breastfeeding week main

Mothers (and a dad), babies, public health nurses and lactation consultants gathered in the Inchicore Public Health Centre in Dublin for the official launch of National Breastfeeding Week. We spoke to some of the people at the launch.              

Aoife Coughlan is mother to 11 week old baby boy, Fiacra. When asked about her decision to breastfeed, she said “I was thinking about breastfeeding when I was pregnant with Fiacra but it was a vague thought in my head, I wasn’t definite. But then I spoke to the Public Health Nurse and she told me it was the best gift I could give my baby. That was the decision made for me.”

Fiacra was born by emergency caesarean section and Aoife thought that having surgery and time away from Fiacra after the birth would hamper her efforts.

“He was in ICU overnight and I really thought I had missed out on a vital good start to breastfeeding. All you hear about is that they need skin to skin immediately after birth and the sooner you start the better. The morning after Fiacra was born, they brought him to me, we did skin to skin and he started feeding straight away and we’ve had very few problems, we’ve been really lucky.”

At the launch with her 4-month-old baby girl Lucia, was GP Sarah Chamney. Sarah’s work meant that she knew all the benefits of breastfeeding and didn’t hesitate to make a decision to breastfeed her baby while she was pregnant. However, she found the early days of breastfeeding difficult and says her main piece of advice is not to expect it to be easy. “Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s easy. When you have a new baby and your body is recovering, you’re sleep deprived and emotional it’s tough. I found breastfeeding extremely painful and difficult in the early days and I felt awful – I just expected for it to happen with ease.

Because we’ve lost a generation or two of breastfeeding in Ireland, what a new breastfeeding mother is really missing is someone to call in the dark moments. It would usually be your mother but if your mother didn’t breastfeed, then you can’t get the advice you need there.

What you need is someone to tell you ‘it’s ok that baby is feeding every 20 minutes, they’re just putting in their order for the next day’. I read somewhere that you’ll have jars of jam in your fridge longer than you’ll be breastfeeding. Whatever troubles you’re having will pass and all will be well. That’s why advice from people who know what they’re talking about is so valuable.”

Pamela Di Sotto was at the launch with her third child, 18-month-old girl Giorgia. Pamela has fed her two older children until their second birthdays and has no plans to stop feeding Girogia anytime soon. “I think because she’s my third and last baby, I will find it harder to stop, I won’t really have a reason to stop now!

For me, it’s the most healthy, the most convenient and the most practical. It’s always there, it’s always perfect for your baby and it’s free.”

Pamela was at the launch with her husband Tomas. He said “Obviously it’s a huge commitment from my wife and it’s something I can’t do for her but I can help in other ways, I am there to support her with the other kids and around the house so she can give this wonderful gift to our children.”

Pamela said “If I was asked for advice from a new mother or a pregnant mother who wanted to breastfeed, I would say be patient. The work you put in in the first six weeks will pay off over and over and you’ll never regret it.”

So what’s the best thing about breastfeeding?

Aoife says the best thing about breastfeeding is the confidence it gives her in relation to Fiacra’s immunity. “When they’re so small, they’re susceptible to everything but breastmilk gives them a stronger immune system and that makes me feel confident to be out and about with him – even on the bus or something like that.” 

The best thing about breastfeeding for Sarah is the bond it gives her with her baby. “This is something nobody else can do for my baby other than me. It gives us a unique bond and I love that.”

For Pamela, convenience is king. She said “I’m from Italy so I like to travel a lot. I can’t imagine having to travel with bottles and sterilisers and formula and everything that goes with it. When I travel home, it’s one less thing to think about when travelling with three children.”