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Posted by on Aug 7, 2012 in Calendar Event, Life | 13 comments

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week

Did you know that the past week was World Breastfeeding Week? In fact, today is the last day of it. This time last year, I wrote a post linking out to my own breastfeeding story, and I hosted a series of guest posts in honour of the week. But this year, the week almost passed me by without acknowledgement. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important – I most certainly do! It’s just that as time passes, the breastfeeding memories fade, and new daily concerns like dropping naps, and moving up to the preschool room take precedence.

But breastfeeding was one of the most difficult and simultaneously most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It changed me in ways I never expected, and it opened my eyes to the issues that new mothers everywhere are facing. Here in Ireland, breastfeeding can be a contentious topic, from debates about formula versus breastfeeding, to people phoning daytime radio in horror that some woman dared to breastfeed her baby in public…

During antenatal classes, plenty of emphasis is put on “Breast is Best” and there’s lots of talk about baby-friendly hospitals and pro-breastfeeding policies. But unfortunately, due to a lack of resources, most of that talk is just hot air, because hospitals in general don’t have the staffing or the expertise to back up those policies. To hear it debated on the public airwaves, you’d swear that women were freely choosing whether to breastfeed or give formula. But in my experience, those who make that straightforward choice are the lucky ones, and they are in the minority. Whether or not you are breastfeeding leaving hospital is often more an issue of luck – meeting the right nurse, or having one of those amazing babies who latches no problem (I’m jealous!) – than of choice. And whether or not you can continue breastfeeding once you get home is influenced by a similar range of factors, many of which have very little to do with choice.

Ireland has been primarily a formula-feeding nation for so long, that we have lost a huge body of knowledge about breastfeeding. When we talk about what’s normal for babies, we’re generally talking about formula-fed babies, because that’s what our own mothers or grandmothers or sisters or aunts or neighbours or friends know about. But if we want to help those women who want to choose to breastfeed, and we want to provide them with knowledge and support that will actually help them achieve their goal or stick to their choice, then we need to share our stories and re-build the breastfeeding knowledge and culture in this country.

So even though I didn’t write about breastfeeding during World Breastfeeding Week, I think it’s too important to let it pass without pointing you in the direction of some of my favourite bloggers who did take the time this week to share stories and information, and in the case of Circus Queen, a beautiful selection of photographs.

Breastfeeding in Italy

Breastfeeding in Ireland

Breastfeeding in Australia


Public Breastfeeding: Where do you sit?

Boobs HD

An Apology to the La Leche League

Circus Queen

World Breastfeeding Week 2012: 23 Bloggers Celebrate


  1. This time last year I was nursing a newborn and reading your world breastfeeding week posts in the small wee hours to keep me going so thank you 🙂

    Gorgeous photos from Circus Queen!
    mind the baby recently posted..Public breastfeeding: where do you sit?My Profile

    • Really? That’s fantastic, and exactly what I hoped for with those posts. I remember spending so much time online reading about breastfeeding when I was learning to breastfeed. Other people’s stories really helped me – it’s great to hear that the stories I posted helped someone else.
      Lisa | recently posted..Kellogg’s GiveawayMy Profile

      • It was how I discovered your blog actually. Properfud Jill had a link to her guest post on I was delirah to find it! Got me through a few hiccups 🙂
        mind the baby recently posted..Public breastfeeding: where do you sit?My Profile

  2. I concur. Before I had my baby the hospital were so pre-breastfeeding and then the second day after he was born and he wouldn’t stop crying all night and I walked the floors, they kept telling me to give him a bottle which only confused and upset me. I’m glad I stuck with things even though we only got to 9 months when he decided to self-wean. But I was shocked at how an institution like a maternity hospital can literally contradict itself. It’s a pity that something so natural is still not the norm. Here’s hoping that will change.

    • My biggest shock in the maternity hospital was asking to see the lactation consultant and being told that she only worked office hours. I remember thinking “but babies need feeding all day and all night – why are there not several lactation consultants on shift?” When I saw a programme last night that explained how formula production is worth €600 million to the Irish economy each year, I realised how unlikely it is that we’ll ever see a true political will to invest in breastfeeding support in our hospitals. Cynical of me maybe to think like that, but I suspect it’s true.
      Lisa | recently posted..Kellogg’s GiveawayMy Profile

      • Ladies, I’m shocked by this! Why are lactaction consultants 9-5??? I bet if I dug a little deeper someone would tell me next they’re appointment only.
        I think you’re on to something there Lisa, Ireland produces 15% of the world’s supply of formula. That’s the whole world with a population of 7 billion.
        mind the baby recently posted..Public breastfeeding: where do you sit?My Profile

        • I really don’t know Mind the Baby. All I know is, that’s what I was told when I inquired about seeing one. I did eventually get to see one for 5-10 minutes coming up to 6pm on the Saturday that I was in the hospital. But that was 2.5 days after Little Man was born, and 2.5 days without a proper latch, and with Little Man needing several formula feeds because he wasn’t latching.
          Lisa | recently posted..Kellogg’s GiveawayMy Profile

          • That must have been very hard for you, I’m so sorry. 2.5 days is such a long time when you’re vulnerable, exhausted and in need of support. You did such a fantastic job to turn it around.
            mind the baby recently posted..Public breastfeeding: where do you sit?My Profile

  3. Awww thanks for sharing Lisa : )
    I love that ‘breastfeeding was one of the most rewarding but simultaneously difficult things you ever did’ (paraphrasing…sorry tired!) I feel the same about it, madness, especially right at the start when you’re home with a newborn, still bleeding & sleep deprived but def the most rewarding thing ever…well maybe apart from having them in the first place lol!
    Ok sleepy time now…
    andmybaby recently posted..Closer to home today – Northern Ireland! Anne shares her breastfeeding experience on andmybaby. Happy World Breastfeeding Week!My Profile

    • Yes, I know lots of people who felt the same way about it Aine. Those first few weeks can be so hard – but once it’s established, there is no comparison. It’s just so easy and makes so much sense.
      Lisa | recently posted..Kellogg’s GiveawayMy Profile

  4. Truthfully I’ve found the biggest struggle for me has been now that the baby is getting older. There is an understanding of breastfeeding small babies but once they become able to start solids, get teeth then culturally in some situations I become a pariah. I was at a funeral yesterday and breastfeeding culturally amongst the families present isn’t really tolerated beyond the first few months. I found myself feeding the baby in the car rather than to cause offence in the church or elsewhere. Not a situation I wanted to be in but I had to be aware of family sensitivies on days like that.
    CaĂ­trĂ­ona recently posted..Baked SalmonMy Profile

    • Caitriona, you just reminded me I had this exact experience at a family gathering for a funeral. Completely forgot about it until just now. Baby was 8 months at the time.
      mind the baby recently posted..Public breastfeeding: where do you sit?My Profile

    • Even from the 3 month mark, people find it a bit strange that you’re continuing. “Are you still at that craic?” was my favourite one, when Little Man was about 11 weeks old.

      I really found that from then on, people never asked how feeding was going, only when was I planning to stop. Drove me crazy.
      Lisa | recently posted..Kellogg’s GiveawayMy Profile

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