The benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby are enormous. Your breast milk provides all the nutrients your baby needs for growth and development. When you come into contact with a virus or bacteria, your body will make antibodies to protect itself. These antibodies are passed into your breast milk so your baby is protected too. Breastfeeding also helps your womb recover more quickly after birth and reduces your risk of certain diseases. You can read more about the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby on the HSE website.

Breastfeeding is a natural way to feed your baby, though it can be difficult particularly at the start. It's a skill that you and your baby learn together. You are more likely to succeed if you have support and all the information you need.

Getting help with breastfeeding

If you find breastfeeding difficult or have questions about it, there are many people who can help and support you:

Antenatal classes before you give birth

When you are pregnant, antenatal classes can help you prepare for the birth of your baby. The classes cover a wide range of topics including breastfeeding. Some hospitals run special breastfeeding programmes that you can sign up for when you are pregnant so you can prepare yourself for breastfeeding and talk to experts about any questions your may have. Check with your local hospital or public health nurse what classes are available in your area.

At the hospital or at home

After you give birth, your midwife will have lots of experience with breastfeeding mothers and will be able to help you get started. You can also get help from lactation consultants who have specific training in breastfeeding support. Many hospitals run a weekly drop-in breastfeeding clinic so you can talk to breastfeeding experts and other mums, and get ongoing support.

At your local health centre

Breastfeeding support groups are run by the public health nurse. Meetings take place weekly, where you and other mothers can meet the nurse to discuss any problems you might have and get advice.

Breastfeeding counsellors

Cuidiú has trained breastfeeding counsellors all over the country.

La Leche League of Ireland is a voluntary group which provides information and support to women who want to breastfeed their babies. Their services include telephone counselling and monthly group meetings.

Breastfeeding support groups

Breastfeeding support groups take place all around Ireland. At breastfeeding support groups, mothers share breastfeeding advice and socialise. There are also opportunities to speak with a breastfeeding expert about any questions you have. These groups also encourage pregnant women to come along before you have your baby if you are considering breastfeeding and want to find out how to prepare.

Both Cuidiú and La Leche League of Ireland organise breastfeeding support groups and coffee mornings.

Friends of Breastfeeding have trained ‘Breastfeeding Buddies’ who are available to give you breastfeeding support by text, phone, email or video call.

Breastfeeding in public

You are entitled to breastfeed in public places and you do not have to ask anyone for permission. When in public, you can breastfeed anywhere you and your baby want or need to. Some places may offer a private area if you would like this, but you do not have to use it.

Breastfeeding and employment

If you are working and breastfeeding you are entitled to take time off work each day to breastfeed. This applies to all women in employment who have given birth within the previous 6 months (26 weeks). Employers do not have to provide facilities in the workplace to facilitate breastfeeding if providing such facilities would give rise to considerable costs. At the choice of your employer, you may:

  • Breastfeed in the workplace or express breast milk, where suitable facilities are available in your workplace.
  • Have your working hours reduced (without loss of pay) to facilitate breastfeeding where suitable facilities are not available.

Women who are working and are breastfeeding are entitled to take 1 hour off work (with pay) each day as a breastfeeding break for up to 26 weeks after birth. This time may be taken as:

  • One 60 minute break
  • Two 30 minute breaks
  • Three 20 minute breaks

Breaks may be longer and more frequent if agreed between you and your employer. Part-time workers are also entitled to breastfeeding breaks, calculated on a pro-rata basis. After 26 weeks, there is currently no legal entitlement to breastfeeding breaks. Some workplaces have policies which support employees to continue to breastfeed. Check with your employer what their policy is.

Your right to time off is set out under Section 9 of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004.

Returning to work while still breastfeeding

If you want to continue to breastfeed when you return to work, you must notify your employer (in writing) of your intention to breastfeed at work. You should confirm this at least 4 weeks before the date you plan to return to work from your maternity leave. Employers can require you to supply the child’s birth certificate (or some other document confirming the child’s date of birth).

Further information

The Health Service Executive (HSE) website has information for anyone planning to breastfeed. It has advice, tips and information for parents interested in breastfeeding and details of support groups throughout the country.


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Page edited: 2 March 2023