Ireland’s eight annual Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge, organised by Friends of Breastfeeding, had it’s highest number of participating venues ever, with 26 locations, across 15 counties.
The event saw an amazing 308 mothers, and 318 nursing children, coming together in public locations, to breastfeed simultaneously at exactly 11am sharp, in an effort to normalise breastfeeding and to put a spotlight on breastfeeding support. The record number of locations taking part, to breastfeed en masse, kicked off National Breastfeeding Week here in Ireland with a bang! Galway City Library was the most successful Irish venue this year.
The Challenge takes place annually across the globe. Despite the fact that Ireland has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, during the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge, Irish breastfeeding mothers taking part always defied the statistics, and have previously won 1st and 2nd place in the world.
The inspiring organisers and mothers who got involved nationwide were helping to break Irish records while normalising breastfeeding. Last year, Ireland was second in the world for the number of venues participating, and looks set to recieve the same honour again for 2018.
In Ireland, a mother’s right to breastfeed in public is protected by Irish law, yet for cultural reasons, Irish mothers often feels less comfortable than their international counterparts. Friends of Breastfeeding decided to start running the Challenge here as we are passionate about fostering a more positive breastfeeding culture. Irish mothers need support on their breastfeeding journey and it’s a goal of the charity to provide that support.
Chairperson of Friends of Breastfeeding, Jennifer Phillips, who was invited to speak at Aras An Uachtarain this week, mentioned the successful event to the audience of breastfeeding advocates which included President Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins (who was awarded Friends of Breastfeeding Advocate of the Year Award this summer), referring to the increased number of venues as, “a reflection of the hard work of breastfeeding supports and advocacy”.
She went on to say, “In a breastfeeding friendly community mothers should feel confident nursing their children, wherever they may be, whenever they need to. And Irish mothers don’t always get to feel that. As a country we can become breastfeeding friendly, not only in hospitals and work places but in all of the places we are within our communities. We can grow into a breastfeeding friendly country, but it does take everyone of us working together to achieve that.”
Enormous support can be found in this country for Irish mothers to have the breastfeeding experience they choose. Friends of Breastfeeding want to bring those mothers together, show people the community of support that does exist and normalise breastfeeding while we’re at it.
The charities main focuses are to foster a positive breastfeeding culture in Ireland, to raise awareness of support options, and to re-iterate the message that breastfeeding is normal.