Paper Authors and Title
Rebecca Tyldesley (Technological University Dublin), Elizabeth O’Sullivan, “The prevalence of breastfeeding, breastmilk expression and breastmilk sharing among a convenience sample of mothers in Ireland”
Ireland’s breastfeeding initiation and maintenance rates continue to be among the lowest in the world. There is limited data available surrounding the awareness and prevalence of breastmilk expression and milk-sharing among Irish mothers.
This study used pre-collected data from an online survey “Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies- Ireland Survey, 2020” created by Dr. Elizabeth O’ Sullivan and Dr. Aileen Kennedy. A convenience sample of 745 participants was asked questions surrounding infant feeding practices.
The majority (95.4%) of participants breastfed or fed at the breast. From this, 98.3% (n=697) of respondents had fed their child directly at the breast and 74.9% (n=558) had fed their child expressed breastmilk. Additionally, 60.1% (n=448) of children were fed formula and 1.5% (n=20) were fed milk from another mother. From these 20 participants 11 received milk from a milk bank, 5 from a friend, 3 from a relative, and 2 from someone they did not know personally. Participants were asked if they had thought about providing milk to another mother of which 433 answered yes, of those who did provide milk 47 provided to a milk bank, 31 to someone they didn’t know, 23 to a friend, and 8 to a relative.
There is a high prevalence of milk expression among the sample of participants and an awareness of the concept of milk sharing with some participants engaging in either providing or receiving shared breastmilk. It’s important when discussing the prevalence of breastfeeding that breastmilk from expressing and shared or donated milk be factored in.