Supports and barriers : experiences of Irish breastfeeding mothers

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McWeeney, Yvonne
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Social Science
Dublin Business School
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The World Health Organisation and UNICEF emphasise the importance of breast feeding children up to two years of age and beyond. Despite this Ireland has one of the lowest breast feeding rates in Europe. This study set out to examine factors which explain why this is so in Irish society. Provided is a brief review of literature which encompassed a broad selection on barriers to breast feeding and some proposed supports. Drawing on the data retrieved from this study of five breast feeding mothers, the study has highlighted various obstacles in the initiation and continuation of nursing an infant in Irish society. The results showed that formula was considered the normal option and opting to breast feed carried no societal pressure to succeed or to continue. The attitude of Irish society was generally acceptant of nursing in public; however, this was seen to be tolerated with infants only as there were conflicting issues with breast feeding older children. Fathers were considered figures of advocacy and support to the mothers. Health supports, on the other hand, were seen as lacking or as non-effective. Formula companies and their relationship with hospitals and government were seen to be instrumentally detrimental to breast feeding rates in Ireland. The conclusion was found that low breastfeeding rates in Ireland was the result of poor health service supports and a lack of societal awareness viewing breast feeding as normal. Author keywords: Breastfeeding, barriers