Breastfeeding in Ireland - in 2009

It is a very personal choice that every mother makes regarding feeding their new born. Each has their own reasons for making the choice that they go with. Here is one mothers thought process behind her decision making. If you have any parenting experiences you wish to share contact us.

“As I sit here breastfeeding my now 13 month old daughter Aoife, I contemplate the decisions we take in life and how the views and opinions on which these decisions are based can change in an instant.

As far as my first child Emma is concerned, babies get their milk from boobies and that's that! I wish when I had her at age 30 that I had the understanding that she has at just four. You see I didn't breastfeed Emma. Like everyone else, I was advised to breastfeed but the 'normal' way to feed a baby is to give them a bottle isn't it? That was my view and in the words of Margaret Thatcher - this lady is not for turning! or so I thought......

After Emma was born and my milk 'came in' I felt guilt stricken. I suddenly realised that throughout my pregnancy nature was preparing my body to nurture this tiny little creature and I had decided to ignore it.

Not because I couldn't breastfeed, not because I had made an informed decision, not even because I had tried and failed but based on the false premise that breastfeeding is always excruciatingly painful, you will never get a break, the baby will never sleep, dad won’t get the chance to bond with the baby and all the other old wives tales. I tried to feed her then but she wasn't interested. At that moment I made myself and my little bundle a promise: that her siblings would be breastfed and that I would make sure that she, at least, would grow up knowing that breastfeeding is normal. And so when Aoife arrived my breasts were put to work!

It wasn't always easy but we persevered and now here I am 13 months on and still breastfeeding! And what a wonderful experience it has been.

Is there a downside? Yes! Not with the breastfeeding itself but with the lack of training given to the medical community to help them support breastfeeding mothers who are facing difficulties. Despite this, the breastfeeding rate is Ireland is rising, albeit slowly and from a very low base. I hope by the time Emma and Aoife are grown that we will be a breastfeeding society like Sweden, Holland, Australia etc.

To my daughters, the greatest gifts I hope to give you are the confidence to believe in yourselves and your bodies, to know you are worthy, to make decisions based on fact and to know you are loved.”

Written by Linda Keating. Linda lives in Dublin with her husband and two daughters Emma and Aoife.

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First published 4kids Winter 2009