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Health Promotion Agency logo As from 1 April 2009 all Health Promotion Agency responsibilities have been transferred to the Public Health Agency.

Campaign details

Feeding your baby

Launch date:
12 May 2003

Target group:
Pregnant women

Secondary target group:
General public

To raise public awareness of the health benefits of breastfeeding, promote breastfeeding as socially acceptable and encourage wider uptake among mothers in Northern Ireland.

Breastfeeding is widely acknowledged to be the best and most healthy way to feed a baby. Despite recent increases, Northern Ireland still has the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the UK. Research commissioned by the Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland indicates that a lack of social acceptability for breastfeeding is one of the main reasons that mums here resort to bottle feeding. While over half of mums here do start off breastfeeding, very few continue past the first few weeks. When mums encounter difficulties, quite often they choose to stop breastfeeding because of a lack of support and the sense that breastfeeding is still not considered to be acceptable.

The campaign:
The campaign included a new leaflet, which provides information on the significant health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby, advice on how to get started with breastfeeding and how the midwife or health visitor can help. Details of local contacts for help and advice are also included. The leaflet can be used by health professionals during antenatal visits to initiate a discussion with the mother about infant feeding. Posters have also been produced featuring local mothers discreetly breastfeeding their babies, with messages highlighting the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and babies.

The leaflet and posters were tested locally with focus groups of women who were pregnant for the first time and mothers who had previously bottle fed their babies. This helped to ensure that the messages were clear and easy to understand, and that the images used were appropriate and would appeal to people here. Click on the links below to view the new materials.

Campaign messages:
The main messages that were communicated through the campaign were:
• breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby;
• for babies, breastfeeding reduces the risk of coughs and colds, stomach upsets, ear infections, childhood diabetes, asthma and eczema;
• for mums, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis.

Link to the press release on this campaign: 2003.

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