Mums smashed another breastfeeding record in Belfast once again over the weekend.
During Breastival Belfast, a family festival celebrating all things breastfeeding, 191 mums took part in the Global Big Latch On, breaking last year’s record for the most children breastfed at the same time and place in Northern Ireland.
The festival, organised by East Belfast mums Dr Jennifer Hanratty and Jennie Wallace, also gained significant cross party support on Saturday for the promotion and protection of breastfeeding.
The Politics of Milk panel discussion at the Ulster Museum heard from two MPs and four MLAs from six parties in Northern Ireland and was chaired by the outgoing NI Director of the Royal College of Midwives, Breedagh Hughes.
The panel was also joined by Claire Allcutt from the Baby Feeding Law Group who set the scene about the World Health Organisation code on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes or formula. She highlighted the main weakness of the regulations in that they allow formula companies to market follow-on formula – a loophole which enables promotion of breast milk substitutes.
All the politicians were in agreement with the need for legislation to protect and promote breastfeeding in Northern Ireland.
Clare Bailey MLA for the Green Party in South Belfast said: “I don’t think any of the parties disagree with taking the legislation forward but I ask why in 2018 are we discussing the need for legislation for a mother to breastfeed a baby. I think that is something that we need to get to grips with.”
She also commented on the sexualisation of breasts and how our culture needed to change. She also committed to investigate the environmental impact of high formula feeding rates and low breastfeeding rates.
Michelle Gildernew MP for Sinn Féin in Fermanagh South Tyrone vowed to lobby whoever the Health Minister would be to bring in the legislation and make sure that it is “tough and robust”.
The legislation to protect and promote breastfeeding started its legislative journey as a Private Members’ Bill by Claire Hanna in 2016 but was subsequently taken into the Department of Health by then Minister Michelle O’Neill just before the Assembly collapsed in 2017.
Claire Flynn, a Board member from Breastival who organised the political panel discussion, said: “The legislation, which in its earlier stages as a Private Members’ Bill by Claire Hanna MLA received significant public support during the consultation, is now at the mercy of an incoming Health Minister and whether they are keen to pursue it.
“However, the clear support we have seen from all the parties here today is very reassuring indeed. We have had commitment from all the panellists to not only read up more on the issues but to feed back to party colleagues and their own internal policy making.”
Emma Little Pengelly, South Belfast MP , also committed to joining the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infant Feeding Inequalities at Westminster; a group that her colleague Jim Shannon currently sits on. The APPG on infant feeding is chaired by SNP MP Alison Thewliss who also has a Private Members Bill on the advertising and promotion of feeding products for babies.
Mrs Little-Pengelly said: “While I know there has been some comments from my colleague Sammy Wilson MP, the party did come out very quickly afterwards to make clear that this was a personal view and not a party position.
“It is unfortunate that it is those comments that tend to get the media coverage and people think they know the party position but it isn’t the party position and we are very supportive of breastfeeding.
“There is an issue about education as the vast majority of women I know are aware of the benefits of breastmilk and know that they want to breastfeed but have felt like failures when they haven’t been able to breastfeed. Women need to be supported to do it and not made feel like failures at that particular time in their lives.”
Claire Hanna, SDLP MLA for South Belfast , talked about her personal breastfeeding experience with her three children, the support she received from her family but also the challenges she had as a breastfeeding mum. She suggested that we need to be more realistic about the challenges of breastfeeding.
Roy Beggs, MLA for the Ulster Unionist Party in East Antrim, is involved with his local Sure Start. He said: “This is an important issue for dads and partners. It is also important that people know about the difference between breastmilk and formula and there needs to be education in schools.”
Breastival, which is in its second year, is a fun-filled family festival that offers support, learning and a chance to meet other families. With talks and workshops for expectant parents, new families, experienced parents and grandparents and supporters, everyone can find something to enjoy.
Breastival aims to normalise what has sometimes been a controversial subject in Northern Ireland. Despite the NHS and World Health Organisation recommendation that children be breastfed until the age of two and beyond, less than 7% of children in Northern Ireland are breastfed past six months.
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Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/mums-smash-breastfeeding-record-belfast-14993929