The benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby are enormous. Breast milk provides all the nutrients your baby needs for growth and development, it contains anti-bodies which can help your baby's immune system and it assists the emotional well-being of both mother and baby.
Practically all mothers can breastfeed but it does take dedication and commitment. You are more likely to succeed if you have support and all the information you need. You will need to balance the baby's demands for milk with your supply. This can take time, as does getting the feeding position right and feeling comfortable with it.
You may find the first couple of weeks of breastfeeding uncomfortable and very tiring, until your supply settles down and the baby learns how to feed well, but as you gain in confidence, you become more relaxed. By the time your baby is a couple of months old, you will be quite an expert. The HSE has useful guides on breastfeeding at healthpromotion.ie.
Under Section 9 of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 certain women in employment who are breastfeeding are entitled to take time off work each day in order to breastfeed. The provision applies to all women in employment who have given birth within the previous 6 months. Employers are not obliged to provide facilities in the workplace to facilitate breastfeeding if the provision of such facilities would give rise to considerable costs. At the choice of her employer, the woman may therefore opt to:
Women who are in employment and are breastfeeding are entitled to take 1 hour (with pay) off work each day as a breastfeeding break. This time may be taken as;
You should note, that breaks may be longer and more frequent if agreed between the woman and her employer. Part-time workers are also entitled to breastfeeding breaks, calculated on a pro-rata basis.
The provision for women to breastfeed at work was brought into effect on the 18th October, 2004 through SI 654 of 2004 Maternity Protection (Protection of Mothers who are Breastfeeding) Regulations 2004.
The HSE have produced a useful guide for employers, employees and co-workers entitled Breastfeeding and Work (pdf).
Women that wish to exercise their rights to breastfeed in employment, must notify their employer (in writing) of their intention to breastfeed at work. You must confirm this information at least 4 weeks before the date you intend to return to employment from maternity leave.
Employers can require the employee to supply the child’s birth certificate (or some other document confirming the child’s date of birth).
If you find breastfeeding difficult, there are many people who can help and reassure you:
Most breastfeeding support services are available free of charge although Cuidiu and the La Leche League charge a small annual membership fee.
The Health Service Executive have produced a national breastfeeding website, full of advice, tips and information for parents.
Information on breasfeeding support options and contacts is available at www.friendsofbreastfeeding.ie.
Tel:+353 1 8724501
Questions in relation to the protection of mothers who are breastfeeding in employment should be addressed to the Workplace Relations Customer Services as follows:
Information and Customer Service
Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 1890 80 80 90
Fax:(059) 917 8909
Both Cuidiu and the La Leche League publish a range of material on breastfeeding. You can read La Leche League leaflets here.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.