Mayo businesses are being encouraged to display a ‘breastfeeding welcome here mark’, which was launched last week.
Ireland has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world and the welcome mark, which has been developed by First 1000 Days, has been established in keeping with the goals of the National Maternity Strategy which states that a broader societal change is required in Ireland in order to promote a more positive culture around breastfeeding.
A consortium of Irish businesses including cafes, restaurants, pharmacies, shopping centres, and professional healthcare bodies have backed the introduction of the welcome mark and have vowed to display it prominently in order to help normalise breastfeeding in public. In Mayo, the mark will be displayed by Boots.
First 1000 Days is a movement led by Danone Early Life Nutrition which aims to drive awareness among parents-to-be and new parents about the importance of nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life, from conception up until a child’s second birthday.
The First 1000 Days spans four key stages of development - pregnancy, breastfeeding, weaning, and toddler. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is known to have a positive impact on the long-term health of children, protecting them against life-threatening illnesses such as obesity, asthma, and diabetes.
First 1000 Days breastfeeding ambassador, Karen Koster, said: “I am delighted to be involved with this initiative. I breastfed both my children and am still feeding JJ, so I know only too well the importance of feeling at ease when I am out and about and he needs to be fed. In my experience, it can feel daunting to feed in public, you are so worried that you will be told to cover up or asked to leave, which is terrible.
"I really feel like this sign will become a signal to mothers who are anxious that they will be supported and welcomed in these establishments and that it is the most natural thing in the world.”
Businesses wishing to join the movement and display the mark are encouraged to visit www.first1000days.ie/bfw in order to receive collateral such as stickers and displays cards.