Orla McGreal said she hopes to still be breastfeeding her son Conor when he’s six months old and if she makes it to his first birthday “that would be amazing.”
The Dublin woman who gave birth to Conor in June found breastfeeding very difficult, but she persevered and wants to keep going for as long as possible.
Her advice to other young mothers struggling is to join a breastfeeding support group.
“To be honest, it was horrible and extremely painful at first,” Orla said. “I was also worried that Conor wasn’t getting enough.
“So I spoke to my nurse who was really helpful and immediately signed me up for a breastfeeding consultation in my area. She was very hands on and weighed him (the baby) before and after (feeding) and reassured me he was fine fed.
“The baby was with me for weeks to boost the supply. It wasn’t entirely natural and a skill I had to learn, but by the time we hit seven weeks it got easier and the baby relaxed.
“I also went to the HSE breastfeeding support groups – and if I hadn’t I probably would have stopped – so I advise any mum struggling to turn to a group. In addition to the care, there is an appointment in the Futtermeer – otherwise I wouldn’t have left the house in the early days, I think.
“Now I have a whole circle of other mothers – and afterwards a large convoy of prams drives to coffee.
“I’m still breastfeeding and my goal is to hit six months – but if I could make it to a year that would be great.”
This week is National Breastfeeding Week, when health officials aim to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding as Ireland has one of the lowest rates in the world.
It’s unclear why this country has traditionally had such low intakes, but HSE National Breastfeeding Coordinator Laura McHugh said the numbers are slowly rising and now stand at 59 per cent who reported breastfeeding their newborns.
“On the first visit from a public health nurse, the number of babies breastfed increased by 5 percent between 2019 and 2021,” she said. “As breastfeeding rates rise across the country, we want to continue to build on these advances by supporting all parents who may need help on their breastfeeding journey.
“As a result, 15 additional infant feeding/lactation positions have been recruited within nursing and midwifery services to support breastfeeding parents, bringing the total to 39. All 19 maternity hospitals now have a specialized lactation support service, and additional infant feeding/lactation facilities are being hired to ensure primary care availability nationwide.”
Maeve Collins, mother of Tavleen (1) and Sibéal (2), breastfed her two children and although it was difficult for her at first, she persevered for nine months with her first child and is still going strong with her second.
As an artist, she was inspired to create a project about breastfeeding called Liquid Gold, which she now plans to exhibit and encourages new moms to do whatever they can to make breastfeeding work.
“My advice to any mom who might need a little help is that milk may take a while to come in at first and you may feel put off, but there are methods that work and can help,” she said.
“Also contact the local health nurse, look for local groups or ask a question about Mammies groups online. And follow your instincts, stick with it if you can, it will even out in the end.”
According to Ms McHugh, perseverance is key as breastfeeding has many benefits for both mothers and babies. It’s also inexpensive.
Anne O’Malley, Dublin Public Health Nurse, said: “Every breastfeeding makes a difference because lots of breast milk is good for both mother and baby. If a mother can breastfeed for a short period of time, this is helpful and the longer you breastfeed, the greater the protection for both mother and baby. We want every mother to be informed of all the free support available to help her breastfeed longer if she chooses to.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/breastfeeding-wasnt-natural-for-me-if-i-hadnt-gone-to-a-support-group-i-dont-think-id-have-left-the-house-42034643.html “Breastfeeding didn’t come naturally to me – if I hadn’t gone to a support group I wouldn’t have left the house.”