National Breastfeeding Week 2021 – benefits of Breastfeeding & Breast Pumps

National Breastfeeding Week is upon us, with this year’s theme “Feeding the Future: Supporting breastfeeding through a pandemic and beyond” proving to be incredibly apt.

The pandemic proved to a hugely challenging time for Mothers wishing to breastfeed as there were somewhat limited supports and despite the numbers improving in recent years, Ireland is still lagging behind when it comes to breastfeeding with one of the lowest overall breastfeeding rates in the world.

Breastfeeding is incredibly important for both mother and baby, as breast milk is packed with essential antibodies, enzymes and hormones that are vital for a new-borns development. It also helps Mums to bond with their baby and actually aids the uterus in returning to a more normal size far more quickly –

“Breastfeeding is hugely beneficial for babies but also the benefits for the mother are notable. Research has shown breastfeeding can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes, and may reduce risk of ovarian cancer. It also helps breastfeeding mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight.” Notes Jennifer Wilkinson, Neonatal Dietician at Cork University Maternity Hospital.

“Breastmilk is obviously hugely important for a baby’s development, providing the ideal amount of energy and nutrients. Perhaps most importantly it’s packed full of essential enzymes, hormones and antibodies that can fight infections, such respiratory, UTIs and gastroenteritis. Breast milk is a dynamic fluid that changes as the baby grows and as it’s needs change, your breastmilk actually changes too and facilitates these needs. In comparison, formulas don’t contain these critical antibodies and one has to remember that powdered infant formula is not a sterile product, it can contain harmful bacteria that may potentially cause serious illness in infants when not prepared correctly.”

So why then are Irish mothers far less likely to breastfeed than their international counterparts? Despite the HSE allocating €1.58 million for 24 additional lactation consultants throughout the country, Wilkinson muses that more can always be done.

“Breastfeeding rates in Ireland are much lower than our international counterparts. Breastfeeding support in Ireland is underfunded. We need more lactation consultants in our maternity hospitals, neonatal units and the community.”

But the times are changing. Now more so than ever before Irish women are aware of the benefits breastfeeding brings with it, especially the impacts of the milk on the baby. So if your baby is struggling to latch or you are experiencing pain whilst breastfeeding there’s no need to instantly jump to formula. Breast pumps are becoming more prevalent and popular amongst new mothers as it allows them to still express and store breastmilk, even if they are having some difficulties with the feeding.

Marie Burke, Business Development Associate at O’Flynn Medical notes an encouraging trend in the number of breast pump rentals and sales at their Macroom based business.

It’s a fantastic option for those who wish to avail of the benefits of breast pumping but perhaps are struggling somewhat to feed. We’ve definitely had a significant increase in people enquiring about breast pumps and I believe it’s all about visibility, it’s about letting people know that you don’t just have to just dive head first into formula if you’re struggling with breastfeeding – Thanks to a number of excellent, informative, high visibility HSE campaigns  Irish women are almost now hyper aware of the benefits of supplying their new born with breast milk so, however public health nurses and lactation consultants are under serious pressure, there’s definitely more supports needed. I would say there is definitely an awareness around breast pumps and our breast pump rental service has been getting busier and busier over the past 12 months or so as more women attempt to keep things as natural as possible.”

To celebrate all of those breastfeeding super Mums, O’Flynns are giving away a special Mama Pamper Hamper worth €150, to enter check out the link here.

“It really helped me increase my supply” adds Miriam Doyle, a Mum of two who has successfully managed to entirely breastfeed thanks to the use of a medical grade breast pump. “When I was finished feeding, I was actually getting up twice during the night to pump, but when I started using the medical grade pumps I realised I was producing way more than I thought I was. I know pumping isn’t an accurate indication of how much I was producing, but it’s still so reassuring and encouraging to see there was a lot more than I thought. It’s so comforting to know there’s a stash in the freezer in case you ever need to be away from your baby. I’m on my second journey now and thankfully this one is smooth, I’m not sure if I would have ever exclusively breastfed on my first without the medical grade pump being honest!”

So, who benefits from the use of a breast pump? Well, everyone. A midwife or lactation consultant can recommend the use of a breast pump if you are perhaps struggling to breastfeed following the birth of your baby or if you are regularly separated from the child. However, it is advised to firstly express by hand and then move onto the pump as the supply natural increases.

  1. Comfort – Even if someone who is regularly breastfeeding is on maternity leave from work, other odd jobs will get in the way from time to time. If your baby is attached to you 24 hours a day, you’re going to struggle to complete even the most basic daily tasks. This is usually one of the main causes of someone introducing formula, however you can avoid this level of frustration by pumping regularly, building up a store and making the routine a small bit easier for yourself.
  2. Up Overall Production – Breast pumping in certain cases can actually up the bodies overall production of milk as the pump actively engages the mammary glands, which replicates the sensation of suction, which in turn helps to generate more milk.
  3. Health – Breastfeeding can often times leave mothers with a feeling of heavy, uncomfortable breasts with a sense of building pressure. Pumping is important as it will give you relief whenever you may need it, also breast pumping has been proven to actively reduce the chance of developing mastitis.

For all of your breast pump rental needs, get in contact with O’Flynn Medical today. With hospital grade double and single pump options available, O’Flynn’s are here to support you on your breastfeeding journey.