The celebrations will kick off in the Guildhall on Saturday, where Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Counsellor Sandra Duffy, will meet Dr. Maria Herron, founder of social good company iBreastfeed, as well as local breastfeeding families, advocates and health practitioners. The group will then walk across the Peace Bridge to St Columb’s Park, where The Big Latch On will take place as part as Breastival.
Maria said: “I recently co-ordinated a Zero Waste Parenting Programme at St. Columb’s Park House, and during one of the workshops, which was about Infant Feeding, we discussed the zero waste aspects of breastfeeding which has a low carbon, low water footprint compared to formula feeding. A number of parents participating in the workshop highlighted the need for more visibility and support for breastfeeding in Derry and Strabane which unfortunately has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. Ideas from parents included to ask the Mayor for help and to invite Belfast based Breastival to hold an event in Derry during World Breastfeeding Week.
“I subsequently contacted Mayor Sandra Duffy and was delighted when she said she would support this parent-led initiative. It was also fantastic to get a very positive response from Catherine Muldoon and Maria McDaid from Breastival who generously offered to host the celebration which is being held in St. Columb’s Park on Saturday.”
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Among the group meeting the Mayor at the Guildhall will be parents Hollie Carroll, Jessica Clarke and Yasmin Simonne Doherty who are passionate about breastfeeding and the benefits of breastmilk.
Hollie works for Derry City and Strabane District Council and is mum to two children, three-year-old Aodhán and nine-month-old Alannah. She said: “I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my babies, mainly to give them the best health outcomes. What I never envisaged, though, was just how much joy breastfeeding would bring. For me, there’s a peaceful, emotional connection that is hard to put into words. That special connection, along with the support of other nursing mothers, is what’s kept me breastfeeding for three and a half years...and counting!”
Jessica’s son Casey arrived 10 weeks early and spent seven weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, during which time Jessica exclusively pumped breast milk for him. After two months of supplementary feeding to help Casey to gain weight, Jessica was then able to exclusively breastfeed him and she has recently begun to also introduce baby led weaning.
Jessica said: “Breastfeeding has not been easy but it has been so rewarding knowing all the benefits it has for Casey and me. I also am interested in zero/low waste living and plant-based eating so the zero-waste parenting programme has been wonderful for meeting like-minded people. Breastfeeding education is so important and any mum who wants to breastfeed should have readily available access to support.”
Yasmin has two children, Saoirse Rose, aged two, and Fianna Eireann, aged 11months. Yasmin helped to highlight the need for donor breast milk earlier this year after posting up a picture on social media of her donation to the Human Milk Bank in Fermanagh. Through her social media posts, Yasmin has been helping to normalise the idea of donating breast milk to help other babies who are unwell or underweight.
She said: “We reached over 1000 social media accounts through that one post which helped to create a new normal for mums sharing their donations and that’s what I’m proud of. I wasn’t the first mum to donate, far from it, but to know that pictures of babies sharing their milk for the milk bank is now a regular feature on our Trust’s social media means more mummies have a platform to show their journey and wonderful donations.”
Hilary Cambell, Head of Service for Public Health and Public Health Nursing; Bernie Webster, a retired Health Visitor who helped to establish the first Breastfeeding Support Group in Derry; Helen Hancock, a well-known local artist, Advanced Breastfeeding Counsellor and Doula; and John McBride, the Policy and Public Affairs Lead with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health will also accompany the Mayor to Breastival.
Mayor Sandra Duffy said: “I am delighted to give my support to this local event to mark World Breastfeeding Week and I would urge as many families as possible to attend the Big Latch On as part of Breastival.”
“It is an ideal opportunity for parents to share their stories of the many beneficial health and environmental outcomes of breastfeeding and the emotional connection it can help develop between mother and baby.
“As a Council we have been proactive in supporting and celebrating it by making several of our premises ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here’ sites where our staff support and accommodate breastfeeding mothers wherever possible.”
More information on Breastival can be found at breastival.co.uk/2022-programme