Pavee Mothers Breastfeeding – Overcoming Barriers #NationalBreastfeedingWeek 1-7 October
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Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre highlighted, at the launch today of Pavee Mothers breastfeeding videos and information booklet, that only 2% of Traveller mothers breastfeed compared to over half (56%) of the general population. Today’s initiative, on the first day of National Breastfeeding Week, is to help revitalise breastfeeding in the Traveller community.
And in a policy
document also released today, Pavee Point calls for targeted measures for
Traveller women, who are named only once in both the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026 and the
Breastfeeding Action Plan 2016-2021, despite having some of the poorest
maternal and infant health outcomes in Ireland.
opening remarks at the launch, Mrs. Sabina Higgins spoke about the necessity of
putting in all the necessary services in place that would allow barriers to be
overcome. And Mrs. Higgins spoke about the need for the tradition of
breastfeeding – that was the norm for
all Irish women Traveller and settled for much of the 1st year of
the baby’s life – to be re-established, thereby giving babies the very best
healthy start in life.
“There is a
wonderful tradition of breastfeeding within the Traveller community – much of
it was facilitated by Traveller women wearing the Traveller shawl. The shawl
meant Traveller mothers could nurture their babies and continue their work with
“We need to
get breastfeeding to be the norm in the Traveller community again.
“Traveller organisations can’t do it alone –
health providers and policymakers need to come together, and in doing so, must acknowledge the reality and address the extra
barriers Traveller women face when it comes to preparing to breastfeed,
starting breastfeeding and then continuing once home from the hospital.”
Barriers to Breastfeeding
The Pavee Mothers breastfeeding policy document explains that Traveller women, like other women in Ireland face a number of barriers to breastfeeding, such as limited support from health providers and family members, but also contend with additional barriers including:
Overcrowded accommodation, lack of privacy and lack of basic facilities such as electricity and water
Martina Queally, Chief Officer, Community Healthcare East and Chair of the Eastern Region Traveller Health Unit welcomed the launch of the resources.
“The work of the Eastern Region Traveller
Health Unit through the Pavee Mothers initiative hasbeen vital for driving
initiatives like this and ensuring Traveller women are on the agenda in terms
of perinatal health,” she said.
Ms. Queally looked forward to the soon to be
published National Traveller Health Action Plan and said there is a need to
mainstream initiatives like Pavee Mothers in partnership with the HSE.
As well as the videos, Pavee Mothers launched a booklet on breastfeeding, which provides culturally appropriate information on breastfeeding to Traveller women and a policy paper that identifies the key barriers to the uptake of breastfeeding in the Traveller Community and provides practical recommendations.