St. Angela’s, IT Sligo and HSE Launch Infant Feeding Report

Mar 07 2022 Posted: 10:30 GMT

Research conducted by staff from St. Angela’s College, IT Sligo and the HSE, published in 2021 took place within Community Health Organisation 1 region (CHO1) in Ireland including three HSE sites; Cavan General Hospital, Letterkenny University Hospital and Sligo University Hospital. The research focused on the factors influencing infant feeding decisions: Prenatal intentions versus postnatal practice of women - investigating the effect of prenatal intentions of expectant mothers on practiced infant feeding methods in the postnatal period; and assessed the factors influencing these choices.

Launching the report on Monday 7th March at St. Angela’s College, Minister of State for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, highlighted the research findings “Infant feeding has become a public health priority in recent years as the methods of IF used has been shown to have both short-term and long-term effects for mother and baby”. Minister Feighan continues “research like this is invaluable in helping practitioners to understand the decisions made by mothers around infant feeding”

312 women took part in the prenatal questionnaire a total of 104 participants also completed the postnatal survey. The majority of participants were aged 30-39 years, 63.6% had achieved up to third level education (45.7%), married (, 56.7%), had other children (65.6%) and breastfed previous children. Interestingly, some participants felt that they had been misinformed about some aspects of breastfeeding, particularly about how it may be challenging in the initial stages.

“We must endeavour to remove the stigma that can be still associated with breastfeeding, making it the norm in our communities and the wider society” explains Dr Amanda McCloat. “We can see from this report that education and a positive support network is influential in promoting mother’s decision to breastfeed so engaging with a mother’s wider support network will be a welcome priority.”

Dr Gemma McMonagle, Lecturer in Public Health Nutrition at IT Sligo describes the findings “this research highlights the significance of the prenatal and 72 hours postnatal periods as critical stages in the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.” Supported by colleague Margaret McLoone, Lecturer in Health Sciences and Health Promotion AT it Sligo, concluding “It is encouraging to see the supports being developed in the region, including the recent establishment an Integrated Infant Feeding Committee chaired by Liz Martin, HSE and partner in this research project and 'Breastfeeding Friendly Sligo' to name a few. As one of our research participants quoted "I know my children will grow up and breast feed and I hope it will be the norm for them" and we hope so as well.”

View the final report here Research Report: Factors Influencing Infant Feeding Decisions

This joint research is yet another example of collaboration between St. Angela’s College and IT Sligo as both institutions work towards incorporation to become the two Sligo campuses of the new Atlantic Technological University, to be designated in April 2022.

Photo: Authors of the report - Ms Liz Martin, Dr Elaine Mooney, Ms Caroline Bradshaw,
Dr Gemma McMonagle, Ms Margaret McLoone, Dr Amanda McCloat, Minister Frank Feighan