55% of new mothers breastfeed
Women born outside of Ireland are more likely to start breastfeeding than Irish mothers, according to a new study.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) survey, which has been released to coincide with the launch of National Breastfeeding Week, reveals that 55 per cent of all new mothers surveyed said they put breastfed their baby after birth.
However, a breakdown of the figures reveals that while 76 per cent of mothers born outside of the country started breastfeeding, only 50 per cent of Irish-born mothers did.
The National Infant Feeding Survey was undertaken on behalf of the HSE by Trinity College Dublin.
It shows that just 42 per cent of all mothers were still exclusively breastfeeding by the time they left hospital following the birth of their child. This is considerably lower than in many other countries. In Norway, 99 per cent of women who began breastfeeding were still doing so by the time they returned home. In Denmark and Italy, 98 per cent and 91 per cent of mothers respectively were still breastfeeding on their departure from hospital.
Regional differences were also apparent in the study with the highest breastfeeding initiation rate recorded in Dublin South East, where 78 per cent of new mothers put their babies to their breast, compared to just 38 per cent in counties Waterford and Louth.
Just over 30 per cent of women surveyed said that breastfeeding was not discussed with them during their pregnancy.
The survey also found that women whose friends breastfed were more likely to do the same, as were those who had themselves been breastfed. There was also an increased likelihood of breastfeeding among mothers who had attended antenatal classes prior to the birth of their child.
The most common reasons given for discontinuing breastfeeding early were incompatibility with lifestyle, perceived insufficient milk supply and ack of facilities/discomfort with feeding in public.