Derry breastfeeding advocates to feature in new documentary

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Derry breastfeeding advocates to feature in new documentary aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates in the UK.

Members of North West BAPS (Breastfeeding and Perinatal Support) Dr Maria Herron, who established the group, and core members Dr. Noella Gormley and Sinead O’Kane feature in the programme which will be aired in a special screening in York on Friday.

Derry has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the UK, and so Dr Maria Herron hopes that this documentary, titled Breastfeeding: Not on the Agenda, will help to open up conversations about breastfeeding.

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She said: "This documentary gave us a great opportunity to speak about the reality of women trying to breastfeed in a bottle feeding culture. Northern Ireland has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the UK, and Derry City and Strabane District Council have the lowest rates in the North. There are many more barriers than people realise, and this short film provides some honest and thought provoking insights into many of the issues that make it more difficult for women to breastfeed. Eight out of ten women who try to breastfeed, say that they stopped before they intended to. We hope that decision makers will watch this film and take action to invest in breastfeeding.

Dr Maria Herron and Dr Noella GormleyDr Maria Herron and Dr Noella Gormley
Dr Maria Herron and Dr Noella Gormley

“It was an honour to be invited to participate in the documentary. As far as we are aware, we were the only participants from Northern Ireland in the documentary. The documentary highlights the need for government measures to support breastfeeding including protection from predatory marketing by the lucrative commercial milk formula industry who actively target pregnant and new parents. At this stage, the health and well-being benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers are well known, and people are becoming more aware that breastfeeding is also good for the planet. It is the optimal zero waste first food for babies, which does not have the carbon and water footprint associated with formula production. Experts in environmental science and climate action have recommended that breastfeeding should be included in carbon offset schemes such as the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)."

Sinead O'Kane a mum of two who is also expecting her third child said she enjoyed participating in the documentary: "Education is absolute key when it comes to Breastfeeding, not only for the mother but also family and friends around her. Once that is fully understood and with the right support, then a beautiful journey can begin."

Dr. Noella Gormley, a core team member of North West BAPS said: "The lack of investment in supporting women to breastfeed is a violation of our basic human rights. After giving birth, many women have an instinctual urge to put their baby to their breast. This is reflected in statistics which report that 80% of women in NI initiate breastfeeding. Not getting the support to continue to breastfeed, when encountering problems, deprives women and babies of the basic right to do so. The impact of not doing so can be observed in the current state of our health, society and environment."

The documentary will be livestreamed on Thursday, June 29 with tickets available here:

The documentary will be available to watch on Youtube at a later date and North West BAPS will also host a webinar associated with the film on August 17.

For more information, email [email protected].