The World Health Organization and UNICEF have released a new guidance document to encourage and increase breastfeeding in health facilities such as maternity and newborn services. Titled, “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding”, the document encourages new mothers to breastfeed their newborn and informs health workers how best to support mothers in their care.
Breastfeeding improves the health of both mother and infant, improving the quality of health of both while also reducing costs on families and healthcare systems. Some of the evidence-based benefits of breastfeeding are protection from life threatening infection in infants, improved performance in school later in childhood and reduces the risk of breast cancer in mothers. According to WHO, the lives of 820,000 children could be saved annually if all babies were to be breastfed for the first two years of their life.
In October 2017, the IPH released an all-island report highlighting the breastfeeding rate across the island of Ireland.
- In 2015, the National Perinatal Reporting System recorded that 58% of babies in the Republic of Ireland were receiving any breastmilk on discharge from hospital. The Health Service Executive recorded that 35% of babies were receiving some breastmilk at three months.
- In 2015/16, the Northern Ireland Child Health System recorded that 46% of babies were receiving any breastmilk on discharge from hospital. 21% of babies were receiving some breastmilk at three months.
For all other IPH work on breastfeeding, click here.