Ulster Rugby makes new signing…to support breastfeeding mums

Ulster rugby 1

The home of Ulster Rugby, the Kingspan Stadium, has signed up to the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme, highlighting their commitment to supporting breastfeeding mums.

The announcement comes during the celebrations for World Breastfeeding Week (1–7 August).

Breastfeeding Welcome Here helps provide supportive environments and shows public support for breastfeeding mums.

Businesses and venues which are part of the scheme pledge to welcome breastfeeding mothers and display a sticker and certificate to show support and that they are members of the scheme. All scheme members also commit to ensuring staff are made aware of the need to be supportive of mothers.

All of the 800-plus venues, which include businesses, council facilities and popular tourist attractions, along with info on breastfeeding support groups in your area, can be found on www.breastfedbabies.org

Sara-Louise Bowan, Event Manager at Ulster Rugby, said: “Ulster Rugby is a family-friendly, inclusive organisation, so we are delighted to join the PHA Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme at the Kinsgpan stadium.

“Lots of mums come here with their babies, lots of tiny babies with their ear-defenders, they can enjoy the game and they are welcome to breastfeed wherever they’re comfortable, but if they do want a quiet space we have that in the main grandstand where there’s a dedicated area where they can have a sit down and be comfortable on a busy match night.

“It’s important that mums feel comfortable coming here for a match night and there’s somewhere quick and convenient to go to breastfeed if that’s where they feel most comfortable.”

The PHA’s website www.breastfedbabies.org  also has information on all of the types of support available for breastfeeding mums and their families. It also includes advice and guidance for employers on how to support breastfeeding mums on their return to work and emphasises the primary objective of giving every child the best possible start in life in line with the Northern Ireland public health framework, Making Life Better.

Janet Calvert, the PHA’s lead for breastfeeding said: “Ulster Rugby joining Breastfeeding Welcome Here is such a positive thing for breastfeeding families. It helps increase awareness about breastfeeding and importantly it gets the message out there to young men and the families that are coming to enjoy rugby that babies have to be fed and they can be breastfed no matter where they are.

“We’re regularly adding new members to the scheme and while a mum can of course breastfeed wherever she wishes, Breastfeeding Welcome Here lets mums see where a business has committed to supporting breastfeeding. This can often take the pressure off a mother by showing this is a friendly environment where the needs of a breastfeeding mum will be met.

“Quite simply, mother’s milk is the healthier choice for mum and baby. So when a baby is breastfeed, it is getting a wonderful start in life.

“The greatest benefits are to be gained by feeding baby breastmilk and nothing else for the first six months of life, and then continuing to breastfeed after baby starts taking solid food. But any period of breastfeeding at all, however short, will be really beneficial to both mother and baby.

“Breastfeeding can help protect babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as asthma and childhood obesity. Breastfeeding also helps to create a close bond between mother and child.

“We also know that breastfeeding can reduce the mother’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

“So the support to help mums get started, and stay breastfeeding, can be crucial.”



Notes to editors:

  • The PHA website www.breastfedbabies.org has information the benefits of breastfeeding, advice and guidance on all aspects of feeding, expressing, problems, returning to work, weaning, guidance for employers, and information on the Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme;
  • Northern Ireland has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the UK;
  • While almost 60% of mothers in Northern Ireland start breastfeeding, the number breastfeeding dramatically decrease after the first days and weeks;
  • The breastfeeding rate at discharge home from hospital is 48.1%;
  • At six weeks – 31.9% of babies are being breastfed;
  • At three months – 26.5% are being breastfed;
  • At six months – 21.3% are being breastfed;
  • At 12 months – 13.0% are being breastfed;

Data source: PHA. Children’s Health in Northern Ireland.A statistical profile of births using data drawn from the Northern Ireland Child Health System, Northern Ireland Maternity System and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Public Health Intelligence Unit December 2018 is available at

  • The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommendations on breastfeeding are as follows: initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour after the birth; exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months; and continued breastfeeding for two years or more, together with safe, nutritionally adequate, age appropriate, responsive complementary feeding starting in the sixth month;
  • All maternity units in Northern Ireland have been designated as ‘Baby Friendly’ by the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative;
  • Northern Ireland was the first UK region to have all maternity units recognised by the UNICEF initiative, which sets the standards for maternity, neonatal, health visiting and Sure Start services to ensure evidence-based practice to promote and support breastfeeding, and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships;
  • Maternity units and healthcare facilities are assessed by UNICEF and are designated ‘Baby Friendly’ once they achieve and maintain these standards.