Baby Feeding Law Group Ireland (BFLGI) is an alliance of organisations and individuals working together to protect infant, young child and maternal health by ending marketing practices that commercialise infant feeding, mislead consumers and threaten breastfeeding.
In advance of the upcoming general election, BFLGI is interested in political parties’ proposed measures for strengthening legislation relevant to infant feeding. It appears that only four parties have made a comment in their manifestos that is directly related to infant feeding, though some parties have included comments on maternity/parental leave.
- The Green Party have stated that they aim to improve “the long term immunity and health of the population of Ireland by increasing support, protection and promotion of breastfeeding in maternity, paediatric and community health care settings” and to “create family friendly policies within all structures of local government to provide access to maternity and paternity leave, affordable childcare and breastfeeding facilities to all participants.”
- The Labour Party have stated that they “will support the development of services for breastfeeding mothers to both encourage and support mothers to breastfeed, with the aim of increasing the currently low rate of breastfeeding in Ireland.” The Labour Party also published a breastfeeding policy in 2017.
- Fine Gael state that they support “the target of a 2% annual increase in the number of new mothers’ breastfeeding in maternity hospitals and primary care centres, with support from increased access to lactation specialists and public health nurses.” They have also said that they “will prioritise areas of social disadvantage and where there are low breastfeeding rates. For those wishing to extend breastfeeding beyond six months, Fine Gael supports the extension of paid breastfeeding/lactation breaks or paid reduction in working hours for breastfeeding mothers from 26 weeks to 104 weeks.”
- The Social Democrats state that “investing in public health nursing will also allow for a much sharper focus on breast-feeding. We are keen to take a number of measures to support breastfeeding by ensuring maternity services are properly resourced to support new mothers, by extending entitlement to breaks to breast-feeding mothers, by requiring large workplaces to provide breast-feeding rooms and a small fridge for breast-feeding mothers who wish to pump, and by establishing a breast-milk bank in the Republic.”
- Fianna Fáil have stated that they will “expand Maternity leave to 30 weeks” and “protect the first 14 weeks of leave as core maternity leave and 4 weeks as core paternity leave and allow parents to share the remainder of paid and unpaid leave as they choose.” BFLGI has concerns about the impact this proposal may have on the HSE’s recommendation that infants are exclusively breastfed for approximately the first 6 months.
- Sinn Féin have said that one of their priorities is to deliver “an additional 26 weeks of maternity (or paternity) leave to enable a parent to be with their child for its first year of its life.”
To our knowledge, other parties have not mentioned infant feeding in their manifestos.
Could party representatives please comment or clarify where they stand on legislation relevant to infant feeding?