The secrets behind a campaign, which led to Limerick becoming Ireland’s ‘breastfeeding-friendly’ capital are being shared across the country.
We’re Breastfeeding Friendly is a campaign by Limerick City and County Council and supported by Healthy Ireland that aims to help improve the health and wellbeing of breastfeeding mothers, babies and their families by encouraging businesses, organisations and communities to become ‘Breastfeeding Friendly’.
A toolkit for the concept for use by local authorities across the country has been devised by Healthy Limerick and has been presented to Healthy Ireland for use by interested cities and counties around the country.
The initiative is very simple and cost-free for businesses, groups or organisations to sign up to. In order to join participants must fulfil certain criteria.
Firstly, breastfeeding must be acceptable in all areas of their premises open to the public. All staff members and volunteers are made aware and are supportive of the business, community group or organisation participating in the We’re Breastfeeding Friendly campaign.
Mothers breastfeeding in the premises must never be asked to move to another area or stop breastfeeding. The public are made aware which premises are taking part through the display of a We’re Breastfeeding Friendly window sticker and/or poster that will be provided by the relevant local authority. It is not a requirement for premises to be adapted in any particular way.
Since We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Limerick was launched in September 2018, more than 100 premises including, churches, local authority and healthcare buildings, restaurants and tourist attractions such as King John’s Castle have signed up to the campaign.
The Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne TD said: “Investing in children's early years to give them the best start in life will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Creating an environment that is welcoming to mothers who breastfeed is a really positive initiative and should be welcomed across the country. I am delighted that Limerick, one of our Healthy Counties, has developed this initiative and is sharing their learning. I encourage all counties to follow their lead and roll out We're Breastfeeding Friendly in their towns and villages, and help bring to life the vision of Healthy Ireland.”
Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr James Collins said: “A huge congratulations must go to the organisers here in Limerick of We’re Breastfeeding Friendly. Such a simple but important campaign has become such a huge success and it has risen awareness of the need to make breastfeeding mothers welcome and at ease. The campaign is hugely successful in Limerick and I wish it the very best as we handover our learning about the campaign to others across the country.”
Mo Foley Walsh, Healthy Limerick Co-ordinator based in Limerick City and County Council has spearheaded the initiative in Limerick. She said: “The level and depth of collaboration between the business, community and public sectors in Limerick is clear in We're Breastfeeding Friendly. Eleven organisations or networks have worked together to make it happen, over 100 premises across the city and county are participating and countless breastfeeding mothers and their children can benefit. And now We're Breastfeeding Friendly is growing beyond the county bounds - this is Healthy Ireland in action.”
The handover of the toolkit has taken place in King John’s Castle, one of the places to sign up to the campaign. Niall O’Callaghan, Managing Director of Shannon Heritage, which runs King John’s Castle added: “Shannon Heritage is delighted to be part of this simple, yet ground breaking initiative, the first of its kind in Ireland. It was so easy to get set up and get accredited and will have a huge positive impact for our visitor experience for those breastfeeding mums. At Shannon Heritage, we put a huge emphasis on improving the customer experience throughout our attractions, and welcoming breastfeeding as a social norm is just another example of that. We are delighted to support and welcome breastfeeding mothers and families.”