Neonatal staff celebrate Breastival and World Breastfeeding Week 2019.


The Ulster hospital recently celebrated Breastival and World Breastfeeding Week (1 – 7 August 2019). These events encourage talks and discussions around breastfeeding and the science of breastmilk.

During the week the Neonatal Infant Feeding Lead, Grace Luke hosted an information stand along with Neonatal Lead Gillian Weir from the Belfast HSC Trust and Ruth McKinstry from the Northern HSC Trust.

The Ulster Neonatal unit staff celebrated the week by promoting breastfeeding, acknowledging that mothers can provide the most important vaccine for their babies via their breastmilk. Mothers pass their antibodies to their babies via their breastmilk, so to promote this message staff wore t-shirts displaying the wording “only vaccine a mother can give”.

The unit also had buns and treats to celebrate the hard work of the parents of premature babies whose breast feeding journey can be long and exhausting. These mums have been expressing human milk (HM) from birth and some will continue for months until their babies are mature enough to breast feed. Staff in the neonatal unit under the guidance of the Neonatal Infant Feeding Lead are there to support and guide parents in how to keep going and eventually go home fully breastfeeding. Within the South Eastern Trust the percentage of babies born at less than 33 weeks in June 2019 going home breastfeeding has increased considerably as per data from Neonatal Network Northern Ireland (NNNI).

Parents are encouraged to nurse their babies skin to skin as soon as baby’s condition allows. This promotes bonding with their babies and encourages mum’s milk production and leads to earlier breastfeeding.