HSE Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week 2016

World Breastfeeding Week takes place from August 1st to 7th 2016 and the HSE is celebrating with our ongoing campaign ‘Every Breastfeed makes a Difference’. The HSE is here with help and support when Mums need it.  Our message hopes to encourage mothers to start breastfeeding, and to breastfeed for longer. 

Our website www.breastfeeding.ie has an Ask Our Expert service for breastfeeding mothers to provide information and support on all aspects of breastfeeding.  Our lactation consultant provides answers to many of the common questions Mums have whether they are thinking about breastfeeding, just getting started or well on their way with a growing baby.  For those Mums who have a specific query, there is also the option to email  their question to a Lactation Consultant. Our Expert is a qualified clinician, available to women to answer their specific queries, give reassurance or advise them of further supports.  Over 57,000 users have searched the Ask Our Expert section to find answers to their questions about breastfeeding since the online breastfeeding support service was launched in May 2015.  Over 1250 mothers or mothers-to-be have consulted directly with the lactation consultant.  The breastfeeding expert providing the information to members of the public is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

Siobhan Hourigan, HSE National Lead for Breastfeeding says ‘Some mums needs support and reassurance that they are doing ok, other mums want information on what is normal and what to expect when they are breastfeeding, some mums need help to overcome some challenges they are experiencing. The Ask the Expert service answers mum’s breastfeeding queries, provides reassurance and assists mothers to continue breastfeeding, linking them with supports in their local community.’

The evidence in relation to breastfeeding and health is now stronger than ever and the potential for improved health outcomes for women and children in Ireland is substantial. We must work collectively to prioritise work to promote, support and protect breastfeeding. This will include training and enhancing the skills of our staff to support more mothers to start and continue to breastfeed; implementing evidence based breastfeeding policies and practices at hospital and CHO level; promoting breastfeeding; and providing breastfeeding supports that meet mother’s individual needs from the antenatal period throughout the postnatal period and beyond.

Our website www.breastfeeding.ie is easy to access and use whether you are on a computer, tablet or smartphone.  It provides Mums, Dads and anyone involved in supporting a breastfeeding Mum with

  • Access to evidence based answers to common questions on breastfeeding.
  • Videos on breastfeeding techniques and supports
  • Evidence based information on managing some problems Mums may experience
  • Contact details and information on local breastfeeding support groups and volunteers  in every county

We have a network of over 200 support groups across the country (all contact details and times are on www.breastfeeding.ie.  Some of the groups are organised by Public Health Nurses, while others are organised by trained breastfeeding support volunteers, all who have breastfed or are still  breastfeeding Mums. They’re a great source of information, advice and most importantly, company and friendships.  Many Mums go along to their local groups in the weeks before they have their baby, which is great for getting to know people.    

Breastfeeding Facts

Children who are not breastfed have an increased risk of developing:

Diarrhoea and tummy upsets

Ear infections

Chest infections




Breastfeeding protects Mums from breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Breastfeeding for at least 3 months significantly increases the health protection for Mum and baby

Risk of ear infections reduced to 50%, compared with 23% for shorter periods.

27% reduction in risk of developing Type 1 diabetes for children with a family history.

The Department of Health and HSE recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, and continuing to breastfeed in combination with other foods up to 2 years.

Ask Our Expert Service

  1. has been nominated in the Irish Web Awards.

There has been a year on year increase in usage of the HSE breastfeeding.ie website with a 331% increase in views in 2015 with the launch of Ask-the-Expert section and on-line Lactation Consultant service.

The online support service includes a database of expert answers to common questions on breastfeeding. For those with a specific query, they have the option also to send their question to our Lactation Consultant.

In 2014,  a survey of 403 website users highlighted that mothers were seeking;  

  • Access to further information on how to overcome challenges they may encounter and
  • Access to support from an on-line breastfeeding specialist.

An on-line Ask the Expert support service is now provided by a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) via the HSE website www.breastfeeding.ie

  1. was re-designed, as a responsive, mobile first site (65% of visits are from mobile devices),

Ask-the-Expert and Support Services searches were included as the primary function of the site.

A database of user-friendly, solution focused questions and answers to common queries was developed. 

Last updated on: 29 / 07 / 2016