Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

Ulster GAA supports breastfeeding mums

November 4th, 2022

Ulster GAA has become the latest organisation to join the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme – a programme that aims to increase the number of premises which actively show support to breastfeeding mums.

This new membership represents a huge support network to breastfeeding mums here and will involve over 300 clubs.

In joining this scheme, Ulster GAA has agreed that:

  • Breastfeeding is acceptable in all areas of a club’s premises open to the general public
  • A mother who is breastfeeding in an area of the club’s premises open to the general public will not be asked to move to another area or stop breastfeeding
  • All club stewards or staff on duty will be aware of the scheme and be supportive of breastfeeding mums
  • Clubs will display the Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme window sticker and membership certificate.

Dr Hannah Dearie, Senior Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Officer with PHA, said:

“Breastfeeding mums have the right to feed anywhere in public. Thankfully it’s rare for a mum to experience any open confrontation or critical comment or behaviour about them breastfeeding in public that causes them to feel uneasy. However, breastfeeding-friendly places provide that extra bit of support and make it clear to everyone that they actively welcome breastfeeding.

“The Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme is an initiative that aims to provide supportive environments for mothers to breastfeed when they’re out and about in public places, particularly those who maybe feel reticent. The scheme, which dates back to 2005, is there to reassure women who want to breastfeed that there are businesses and organisations out there who have taken proactive steps to welcome breastfeeding mothers and show solidarity with them.

“Breastmilk provides babies with all the nutrients they need to grow and develop, along with antibodies, hormones and stem cells to help protect them now and in the future. It’s important that we do all we can to support more parents to choose to breastfeed their children and to ensure that they are helped to do so. Initiatives like Breastfeeding Welcome Here help to normalise breastfeeding and create the right conditions for mothers to breastfeed in comfort, wherever they are.

“Making it easier for mums to choose breastfeeding will help improve breastfeeding rates in Northern Ireland.”

Michael McArdle, Ulster GAA PRO, said:

“We pride ourselves in the GAA on being an inclusive organisation for all and we are delighted to join the PHA Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme.

“By embracing the scheme we wish to send a message of support to breastfeeding mums in our communities that our clubs and our grounds will offer a safe and welcoming environment to feed their children.”

Michelle O’Hagan, Infant Feeding Lead Midwife at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, said:

“Kilcoo GAC embraces all opportunities to promote the health and wellbeing of everyone in the local community. I am delighted that they have joined the PHA Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme and are committed to ensuring that all mothers are kindly supported in their feeding journeys

“Huge benefits are to be gained for families when their infants receive breastmilk. By getting this wonderful start in life, breastfeeding helps protect babies from many childhood illnesses and childhood obesity and it can also reduce a mother’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

“As well as promoting secure attachments, research also informs us that having the support from partners, parents, grandparents, extended family, friends, employers and the community, is vital in helping mothers to get breastfeeding off to a good start and continue for a longer duration.

“Any breastfeeding is valuable and the World Health Organization recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal health and up to two years or beyond alongside complementary foods.”

Dr Dearie concluded: “Any business or organisation which is open to the general public is eligible to join the scheme, which currently includes over 800 cafes, restaurants, shops, council facilities, universities, tourist attractions and other public and private sector venues across Northern Ireland. The PHA is delighted to have Ulster GAA as a member of the scheme and believe that this will support breastfeeding mothers to continue breastfeeding for longer.”

For more information visit the website which provides a list of local businesses across the North participating in the scheme.

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