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Breastfeeding in a Healthy Ireland

The 5 year Breastfeeding Action Plan sets out the priority areas to be addressed over the next 5 years to support more mothers in Ireland to breastfeed and to contribute to increases in breastfeeding rates. The HSE Action Plan includes a target of an annual 2% increase in breastfeeding duration rates between 2016 and 2021.

The Breastfeeding in a Healthy Ireland Health Service Executive Action Plan 2016 – 2021, can be downloaded here .

Actions include policies at hospital and community level; investment in breastfeeding training and skills development for healthcare staff; additional lactation specialist posts; and partnership working to promote a culture that accepts and supports breastfeeding.

Priorities include:
  • Further Breastfeeding Training for Healthcare Professionals
  • Enhanced staffing and resources for breastfeeding support within maternity services and primary care
  • Timely skilled Assistance for mothers
  • Implementation of Breastfeeding Policies, based on the WHO/UNICEF 10 Steps
  • Governance and structures to support breastfeeding
  • Implementation of the WHO Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant WHA Resolutions
  • Revised Antenatal education
  • Audit & collation of breastfeeding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The HSE Nurture Infant Health & Wellbeing Programme includes initiatives to contribute to an increase in the rates and duration of breastfeeding in Ireland, including revising antenatal education; pathways of care for mother and baby; and staff training.

In addition the following actions are also in progress:

  • The HSE booklet ‘Breastfeeding – a good start in life’was developed in partnership with La Leche League, the Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland, Cuidiu, Friends of Breastfeeding and BFHI.
  • The HSE booklet ‘Breastfeeding & Expressing for your premature or sick baby’was developed in partnership with the Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland, Irish Premature Babies, the National Maternity Hospital and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.
  • Breastfeeding is promoted to expectant mothers in the antenatal period at maternity hospitals and in primary care. Mothers are offered support to breastfeed following birth by midwifery staff and care is provided by public health nurses in the community following discharge from maternity hospital.
  • Breastfeeding support groups are provided by the HSE and HSE funded voluntary breastfeeding organisations around the country, La Leche League, Cuidiu and Friends of Breastfeeding. The annual National Breastfeeding Week is part of the national breastfeeding campaign ‘Every Breastfeed Makes a Difference’.
  • The HSE website provides information, advice and support to women thinking about breastfeeding and those who are breastfeeding. The on-line Ask the Expert service and webchat facility on is provided by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) who respond to mother’s queries about breastfeeding.