IRISH experts are calling for increased supports for working parents to mark World Breastfeeding Week (from August 1 to 7).
According to Katie Mugan, founder of NursingMama.ie, breastfeeding and returning to work can be one of the most stressful times in a parent’s breastfeeding journey, and can prove challenging for many parents in the early days as breastfeeding is a learned experience for both the parents and baby.
Katie said: “Often, parents are just getting into their groove when maternity leave finishes and they must return to work.
“For many exclusively breastfed infants, they may not take a bottle, which can heighten a parent’s anxiety when they return to work.
“In the smaller infant, bottles are often an easier way to feed the baby for other care-givers, yet establishing a baby on a bottle, if they are refusing, can take up the last few weeks of a parent’s maternity leave. The older infant or child may be able to get through the day simply using a sippy or open cup until a mother returns home to feed.
“The breastfeeding parent is a key figure here and must be supported. Depending on a the milk supply and age of child, they may need to pump while at work. Having a private room to do so is necessary and a somewhere to store this milk.”
She continued: “Companies need to prioritise work and family life balance as this can benefit them greatly. Breastfeeding not only leads to better health for children in the short and long term but also the family unit too. Supporting parents and reducing a stressful return to work can lead to better performance in the work place.”
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill is being introduced as part of an EU directive which has a deadline of August 2022. It has been proposed that the Bill brought to cabinet, will provide rights for workers to take breaks to breastfeed or express for up to two years after the date of confinement of their child. The current law only provides for 26 weeks.
Employees will be entitled to take those breaks in one block of 60 minutes, two blocks of 30 minutes or three blocks of 20 minutes in an eight hour working day. They can also take one hour at end of their working day.
CEO and Co-Founder of HR Buddy, Damien McCarthy worries that too much legislation is being introduced as part of a box ticking exercise by Government with little or no supports to help the employer to implement such legislation. This, he says may lead to employment relations difficulties between employers and employees in some circumstances.
Mr McCarthy said: “There’s a whole host of employers who have never dealt with breastfeeding in the workplace before, therefore guidance and supports are required in order to make it work. Appropriate facilities that are logistical and allow for privacy must be available.
“Facilities in the workplace need to be reviewed to ensure workers are encouraged to take their breaks. This means financial assistance is needed for SME’s.”
To contact the Breastfeeding helpline at CUMH ring: 021 492 0752
To see what supports Cuidiu have in Cork see www.cuidiu.ie/supports_breastfeeding
For local La Leche groups see, www.lalecheleagueireland.com/
NursingMama.ie was founded in 2021 by Katie Mugan. With over twenty years’ experience as a Registered General and Paediatric Nurse, Katie established her own private practice after qualifying as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2019.
Through her extensive experience in the community, Katie witnessed many parents feeling anxious and overwhelmed, unsure about breastfeeding, and was passionate about sharing her knowledge to help them succeed and thrive through those early stages.
Through her nursingmama.ie platform, she devised unique antenatal supports in the form of Breastfeeding Preparation, newborn care classes and a Weaning from Breastfeeding Workshop; which have proved hugely successful and allows parents to end their breastfeeding journey in a gentle and positive way.
Katie recently launched a new on-demand suite of breastfeeding courses covering the early days right through to the end of the breastfeeding journey. This new service allows parents to take NursingMama.ie courses at their own pace and from the comfort of their own home. See www.nursingmama.ie