Sabina opens NUIG’s Webinar on “Diverse global perspectives on breastfeeding and breastfeeding support” for Breastfeeding Week
7th October 2020
Good Afternoon Everyone and Happy Breastfeeding week!
A special thank you to Dr. Elizabeth McCarthy Quinn and Dr. Sarah Brennan of NUI Galway and the HSE for their kind invitation to me to have the great pleasure of introducing today’s Webinar to mark Breastfeeding week. You are all so welcome to this important event.
The Theme of the Webinar “Diverse Global Perspectives on Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Support” could not be better chosen in the light of this time in history when the world is facing so many challenges as well as the dreadful crisis of the COVID19 pandemic.
Congratulations on the line up of wonderful participants. It is so good that besides our own eminent specialists here in Ireland, we have so many International and distinguished experts that we are so lucky that they have agreed to take part in this webinar.
It is heart-warming and hopeful that there is such a distinct awareness in all the contributions that this issue of breastfeeding is not individual but societal, and cultural, international and planetary.
The difference aspects of the subject that each speaker deals with are affirming of one another and will no doubt add to our further understanding and knowledge and our resolve to do all in our power to bring about the happy day – as Beckett says - that every child on the planet can be breastfeed by a well-nourished mother.
Even as we deal with the immediate issue we must always keep before us our great purpose of the achievement of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals to which 200 countries have signed up. Five of these goals deal directly with the empowerment of women and also with the ending of poverty, malnutrition and inequality and achieving sustainable economic growth universally.
The United Nations is the great and best hope of the world but it needs support. I just wish that it’s worth would be better know if people referred to its sub-bodies as the United Nations World Health Organisation and the United Nations UNICEF and the United Nations UNESCO etc. Breastfeeding has been described by the United Nations as the smart investment families, communities and countries can make.
It is so great to have Dr. Nigel Rollands of the Department of Maternal. New-born Child and Adolescent Help at the Unites Nations World Help Organisation as a participant at the Webinar here today.
I find it very exciting the way that the beautiful term “human milk” is referred to, and occurs in the work of so many of the speakers. It is so fundamental to our being. When one thinks of the millions of years of intelligence, and intuition and instinct, it took nature to evolve species that for the survival of their offspring reached a stage of mammal and eventually then human beings that could carry their young inside their body, and then continue to feed it with milk once it was given birth. How extraordinary that, that miracle of creation, that birth right of a baby to its mother’s milk should have been perversely thrown away. As it says in some poem “as if it were a careless trifle “.
It is so wonderful that you people here and the other scientists like you and the research by the United Nations have scientifically proven, and continue to add to the evidence, that there is no greater gift to a baby for its health and happiness than to be nursed exclusively on its mothers milk for the first 6 months of its life, before then been able to be fed solids and part breast-fed for as long as its mother wishes. The task is to get that understanding to come about universally.
There is no substitute. Here in Ireland 70 years ago all children were breast fed and 30 years later babies were almost all bottle fed. It had become the norm. The midwives had disappeared and nurses and doctors never mentioned breastfeeding as a possibility. La Leche League were the only advocates. What a serendipity that Dr. Elizabeth McCarthy one of the organisers of today’s events has been a Leader with La Leche league International for 30 years. How did this cultural change come about? Was it in part because of the power of advertising - of Formula?
Well the cultural change to breast feeding in Ireland is slowly and surely on the way through the great commitments of so many health interests and concerned groups, not least the pioneering breastfeeding women of Cuidiú, La Leche League, Friends of Breast Feeding, and others.
It is vital that we get public acceptance of breastfeeding; well-paid maternity leave and flexible working conditions; optimum professional support combined with community support programmes for new mothers; private and comfortable breastfeeding and expressing facilities in workplaces, shopping centres, universities, airports and the many other places that mothers have to be; are all vital if we are to make it possible for women to breastfeed exclusively for six months, and continue to breastfeed for as long as they wish.
I thank all of you for your commitment to increasing the frequency of breastfeeding amongst mothers around the world, and I wish you a fruitful and successful webinar.