The HSE’s National Breastfeeding Week proceeded amid welcome news that the HSE’s ‘Ask Our Breastfeeding Expert’ online service recorded a 57 per cent increase in demand over recent months, as parents of babies born during COVID-19 restrictions sought online advice.
The figures compare queries made to the Mychild.ie breastfeeding support service between April and August against the same period in 2019. There were 567 live chats (up 35% from 419 in the five-month period in 2019) and 1,121 e-mails were answered (a 71% increase from 652 in 2019).
Part of www.hse.ie, the mychild.ie site includes extensive breastfeeding information, videos and guides as well as the ‘Ask Our Breastfeeding Expert’ service plus wider pregnancy and child health information. A team of lactation consultants provide free personalised advice to users by email and live chat.
The most popular queries received by the service during this time included: how to prepare for breastfeeding while pregnant, how to restart breastfeeding after a break and issues around pain and breastfeeding.
The support options available online are being highlighted in addition to promotional efforts under way in Wexford.
Each year, Wexford based Public Health Nurses arrange activities to promote and support breastfeeding. In recent years, these have included coffee mornings for breast feeding parents, local radio interviews and co-hosting information stands with the Wexford “Cuidiú” Branch.
Despite the last six months being an extremely busy and anxious time for Public Health Nursing (PHN) service, who continued to provide frontline service in the clinic and home setting throughout the pandemic, PHNs in the Wexford area (including lactation consultants) did not want to miss the opportunity to mark National Breastfeeding Week 2020. They distributed such health promotion materials to colleagues at the HSE/South East Community Healthcare’s Primary Care Centre at Grogan’s Road Wexford and highlighted points such as:
- Mothers’ experiences of feeding in hospital and the community is improving.
- Hospital and community services are working to deliver more breastfeeding support to mothers, particularly over the last few months. This includes providing antenatal education classes online, virtual one-to-one consultations in the home and phone support, while continuing antenatal and postnatal face-to-face consultations for mothers and babies where needed.
- Having a new baby is life-changing and breastfeeding is a skill that takes time and practice to master. In the early days, skin-to-skin contact and keeping your baby close to you will help you recognise the signals they make to tell you they are hungry or want a cuddle. This will help you settle into a rhythm together. Responding to your baby’s needs helps them feel secure while supporting their brain development. We want to let mothers know about supports available on mychild.ie to help them to breastfeed for as long as they wish.
To join the HSE parenting and breastfeeding community, see the HSE mychild.ie Facebook page and hse_mychild on Instagram #hsemychild #breastfeeding #breastfeedingweek
Last updated on: 08 / 10 / 2020