Living Well summer campaign launched – discussing all things breastfeeding for mum and baby

The Community Pharmacy Living Well service is launching a new summer campaign on breastfeeding which will run during July and August 2022.

The breastfeeding campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of breastfeeding, encourage support for breastfeeding mums and help to normalise breastfeeding.

Living Well is offered in over 500 pharmacies and provides information and advice on public health issues. It is delivered in partnership with the Public Health Agency (PHA), Department of Health and Community Pharmacy NI (CPNI).

Dr Hannah Dearie, Senior Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Officer with PHA, said: “Breastfeeding is a fundamental public health issue because it promotes health, prevents disease in the short and long-term and helps to reduce health inequalities for both mum and baby.

“We know that breastfeeding protects babies from a range of illnesses, including ear and chest infections, gastroenteritis, diabetes, asthma, childhood obesity, as well as cot death (sudden infant death syndrome). It also helps to protect mums from various cancers such as breast and ovarian, and also type 2 diabetes.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life; the longer the duration of breastfeeding the greater the effect on improving the child’s health. While the majority of mothers can breastfeed, we know that making it easier and more supportive for them to do so will help improve breastfeeding rates in Northern Ireland. It is important that mums are provided with accurate information and practical support from their family, their healthcare system and wider society.”

The campaign aims to encourage and target a broad spectrum of the public including:

  • breastfeeding mothers, pregnant women and women considering getting pregnant;
  • spouses/partners, grandparents (as they are key influencers on a woman’s decision to breastfeed and to continue to breastfeed), family members and friends;
  • the general public – community support is needed particularly when breastfeeding mothers are outside the home environment.

In addition to this, the campaign emphasises the ‘Breastfeeding welcome here’ scheme which helps to locate and provide supportive environments for mothers to breastfeed when they’re out and about in public places.

Whilst breastfeeding rates in Northern Ireland have been increasing slowly in recent years, it is really important that we continue to do all we can to encourage more parents to choose breastfeeding for their babies and to ensure that they are supported to do so.

Community pharmacist Edel McMahon added: “Community pharmacies are at the heart of our local communities with the public recognising pharmacists as trusted and accessible healthcare professionals. This makes community pharmacy the ideal setting to help encourage and support mums on their breastfeeding journey.

“Initiatives like the Living Well service aim to help to normalise breastfeeding and provide an alternative support network for breastfeeding mums. We are able to support the wider community in understanding the importance of breastfeeding.

“Whether you need support with breastfeeding or you want to know how you can help support a friend, a colleague or family member on their breastfeeding journey, the first step is simple, just ask your pharmacist for advice.”

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