Aoife Hearne Dietitian (Operation Transformation), Virgin Media Ireland‘s Ireland AM , Ciara Whelan (The Holiday Show), Microsoft Ireland and Cara Alexander ( Mrs Ireland 2019), were among the award recipients who attended the 3rd annual Friends of Breastfeeding Awards which took place on Saturday 5th of October in Clontarf Castle Hotel.

The Awards were extra special this year as Friends of Breastfeeding are also celebrating their 10th Anniversary. Aoife Hearne of operation transformation, won the Advocate of the Year Award (sponsored by HipBaby Ireland), the dietitian is a huge breastfeeding advocate and on the committee of Baby Feeding Law Group Ireland , ”If we want to see a change (In breastfeeding rates), we need to be brave and willing to have the hard, honest, sometimes excruciating conversation with friends; work colleagues; healthcare care professionals and most importantly, mothers. I am hopeful that when my 2 beautiful daughters are mothers, that they will live in a society where breastfeeding is the norm”.

Friends of Breastfeeding Awards 2019, Sabina Higgins, Ireland’s First Lady

Sabina Higgins, Ireland’s First Lady and last year’s winner of the Advocate category presented the award this year, addressing the gathering she said “ Breastfeeding is not just important for our society, its vital for our planet. With the climate crisis acknowledged we realise we are on the cusp, we must save the planet. One of the fundamental steps in doing that is to get the world breastfeeding “Award winners included healthcare professionals, breastfeeding mum’s, businesses, journalists and celebrities. They were chosen from public nominations and awarded under 19 categories in total. Other recipients included, Tracey Quinn(Blogger of the Year ), Ciara Whelan (Celebrity Mum of the Year, sponsored by Essentiel Vie) and Siobhan O’Connor (Journalist of the Year).

Ciara Whelan (The Holiday Show) said “Thanks to Friends of Breastfeeding for this award. I will go home today and tell my 3 girls that I am very proud. I will continue to do my best to actively promote breastfeeding, I will fight this fight and I will fly this flag!Winner of Blogger of the Year, Tracey Quinn (Love Of Living – By Tracey Quinn ) “I’m an accidental breast feeder, when asked if I was going to Bottle feed or Breastfeed, I said bottle, obviously! Then he was born, I looked at him and he looked at me and I said, oh wow, I have to try this! And its hands down the best thing I’ve ever done!”

Friends of Breastfeeding Celebrity Mum of the Year, Ciara Whelan

Cara Alexander, the current Mrs Ireland, said “I believe its my role as a mother to normalise natural term breastfeeding and to challenge the stereotypes we face as breastfeeding mothers. I want to thank Friends of Breastfeeding, for giving us this opportunity to celebrate together. Last but not least, my husband says I have to thank him, I’m not sure for what, as he has useless nipples and has never done a night feed in his life”.

Sinead Kelly of Friends of Breastfeeding said “The nomination means so much to all of those individuals on the front line who encourage, support & normalise breastfeeding every day. They really are the unsung heros, It’s great to see them and their hard work acknowledged and celebrated.

Current exclusive breastfeeding rates in Ireland on discharge from maternity hospital are 46.3% (HSE, 2016). According to World Health Organization (WHO) World Health Statistics 2013, only 15% of children in Ireland are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. Jennifer Phillips, chair of Friends of Breastfeeding said “Ireland’s breastfeeding rates compare so poorly to other countries, this is because Irish mothers often aren’t supported, however the Friends of Breastfeeding Awards are the perfect event during national breastfeeding week to celebrate all of the people who try to make a difference, whether it’s in the public eye, in their professional positions, volunteering, or just being an inspirational mother. These are the Oscars of the breast world!”

Full List of Friends of Breastfeeding Award Winners

– Breastfeeding Advocate of the Year: Aoife Hearne (Sponsored by HipBaby)
– Celebrity Mum of the Year: Ciara Whelan (Sponsored by Essentiel Vie)
– Media Feature of the Year: Virgin Median, Ireland AM (Breastfeeding Interview with Ger Cahill & Leah Norah)
– Journalist of the Year: Siobhan O Connor
– Blogger of the Year:  Tracey Quinn
– Breastfeeding Supporter of the Year: Stephen Teap
– Breastfeeding Mum of the Year: Cara Alexander (Sponsored by Precious by Kerry )
– Healthcare Professional of the Year: Dr Justin Roche & Team
– Midwife of the Year: Mary Callaghan
– Public Health Nurse of the Year: Marie Meagher
– Lactation Consultant of the Year: Caoimhe Whelan, IBCLC (Sponsored by Multi-Mam)
– Best Breastfeeding Friendly Employer of the Year: Microsoft Ireland
– Friends of Breastfeeding Buddy of the Year: Emma Howlin
– Volunteer of the Year: Jan Lane Martin, PumpPal
– Friends of Breastfeeding Mum2Mum Group of the Year: Ratoath Friends Of Breastfeeding Mum2Mum Group
– Local Group of the Year: North Wicklow Cuidiú Breastfeeding Group
– Breastfeeding Photographer of the Year: Simona Milani, Coccole Photography, Dublin Birth Photographer
– Best Breastfeeding Friendly Establishment: Story Cafe, Limerick
– Special Recognition Award: Sue Jameson, IBCLC