Posts Tagged ‘ Time magazine ’

News in Brief-Taoiseach Bares All For Playboy As Irish Conker Championships Placed In Doubt

Comeback : Far Cry From Reality

At Shannon Airport security fears have increased after two unlikely anti-war protestors made it on to the runway. Well, almost. Margaretta D’Arcy (78), a playwright and peace campaigner, and Niall Farrell (59), a member of Galway Alliance Against War planned to stage a peaceful protest on the eleventh anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war but were spotted by air traffic control. Mrs D’Arcy also hoped to scatter her husbands ashes on the flight path but was unable to do so before her subsequent arrest. They were apprehended before they reached the runway and were later released without charge. Gardai investigating the breach said they couldn’t find any damage to the perimeter concluding the pensioner and her companion must have ‘scaled the fence’.

Already plans are underway to celebrate next St Patrick’s Day not here in Ireland but in Rio de Janeiro. The famous statue of Christ the Redeemer, which stands guard over the city is to be lit up in green next March 17th after President Michael D Higgins and the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro Orani Joao Tempesta signed an agreement. Perhaps they got the date wrong perhaps they meant April 1st?

Mattie McGrath TD for Tipperary South has described Enda Kenny as; “a playboy on the front page of Time magazine” in a speech about the Fiscal Responsibility Bill and Government kite-flying (they do love it don’t they!). Except that’s not quite what he told the Dáil; “The most sickening thing last week was to see the Taoiseach on the front page of Playboy magazine.” Quite.

Bleeding canker is ruining our conkers! Fears are growing conkers may be of short supply at the 13th annual Irish Conker Championships in Kilkenny after the tree disease, bleeding canker, has blighted horse-chestnut trees. Organisers are tasked with collecting 30,000 conkers in order to select 500 that meet competition standards but face being understocked this year. Susan Murphy, chairperson of the Irish Conker Championships has asked anybody with their own stock to donate to the cause.

‘Taken 2, the action movie sequel starring Liam Neeson and based on the kidnap of himself and his ex wife has only recently been released but already plans are underway for the sixty year old Irish actor to return in ‘Taken 3’. Now that’s just careless but nonetheless “He will find you, he will ….” …. you know the score at this stage.

TV Stars Keep Breastfeeding In Focus

This week saw two Irish TV shows highlighting the attitudes of many Irish people towards breastfeeding in Ireland.  After the recent debates following from a very controversial Time Magazine cover, our low breastfeeding rates in Ireland have come to the forefront.  It would seem that the opinions of Irish people surrounding breastfeeding, our reluctance to openly discuss breastfeeding, and our attitudes towards when it is deemed appropriate to wean a child off the breast, all contribute to our poor success rates in breastfeeding.

On discharge from hospital, less than half of all Irish babies are exclusively breastfed, and this rate drops to only 3% by the time a child is six months.  Considering that the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, following by continued breastfeeding to a minimum of two, why is it that rates in Ireland are so low? As we live in a developed and well educated country, where access to information about breastfeeding is readily available, and the health benefits are so well known, could it be that we don’t consider breastfeeding socially acceptable, and could this be lending itself to low success rates?

The current series of “Come Dine with Me Ireland” aired this week and was set in County Cavan.  On the fourth night, land lady and fussy eater Lorraine brought up the fact that she breastfed her two children, the first for five years and the second for four and a half years.  She was open in her admissions that she would have fed her children anywhere, including restaurants and at mass.  This declaration led to a heated debate about whether breastfeeding in public was acceptable, and a fellow contestant even went so far as to advise that the children should have been fed in the car rather than in public view in a restaurant.

In the private interviews later, Lorraine’s peers labelled her extended breastfeeding as “strange” and “not normal”.  As the average weaning age worldwide is four, it is fair to say that Lorraine is closer to the global norm than 97% of the Irish populace, and hence is more “normal” than most.  The reaction of the contestants towards public breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding are representative of the attitudes of Irish people and testimony to the fact that it is the mind-set of our citizens that is negatively affecting our breastfeeding rates.

On the new series, “Dublin Housewives”, we saw Virginia Macari welcome her son, Troy Sebastian into the world.  He was a gorgeous healthy baby, whom Virginia successfully and openly breastfed.  She discussed her desire to breastfeed even before Troy was born, and when later out for a girls’ lunch with her six week old son in tow, she continued to discuss the fact that she was breastfeeding.  Her co-star from the show, clinician Danielle Meagher, was animated in her attempts to get the ladies to cease their discussions around breastfeeding, and even went so far as to say that she was cringing as it was the discussion was turning into “My Big Fat Gypsy Breastfeeding Wedding” or “”.

Whilst Virginia was showing herself to be a great role model for breastfeeding, discussing how she expressed and proving that it doesn’t have to impact on your social life, Danielle was representing the other portion of the population who have overly sexualised the breast and refuse to discuss what is the most normal and beneficial activity a new mother can engage in.

Both of these programmes are continuing to keep breastfeeding in focus and this can only be seen as a good thing in a country where we so desperately need to improve our breastfeeding rates.  The downside to this, however, is that any susceptible or naïve people may take on board the negative attitudes that have been represented.  The ill-treatment which both starring breastfeeding women were subjected to is unjust and shameful and the reactions of the characters are indicative of the attitudes of many Irish people today.  Let the breastfeeding exposure continue and hopefully a sizeable shift in our breastfeeding culture will follow.

Come Dine with Me Ireland and Dublin Housewives may be viewed on

Extended Breastfeeding Debate Continues

Before I became pregnant with my son, I hadn’t given a huge amount of thought to breastfeeding.  It was something you would often see women doing when out for lunch and I knew that there were certainly many health benefits, but that was the extent of my knowledge.  It was only after my son was born, and he refused to feed for the first two days that I realised how important it was to me that he did receive this “best start in life” and how passionate I actually was about wanting him to be breastfed.

I used every website that I could find to research about breastfeeding and inform myself about how best to get him started.  I am so glad that I had this option, as the midwives in the hospital certainly did little to assist.  On one occasion, I was warned that if my son didn’t feed for at least 20 minutes at each sitting, he would be at risk of cerebral palsy, and so should be supplemented with a bottle.  In hindsight I can see how very wrong she was.

What nobody seems to prepare you for is that fact that most breastfed babies will want to feed almost every two hours for the first three to four weeks.  This is normal.  This is tiring.  This will not last.  Breast milk is easier to digest than formula milk, and so breastfed babies will feed more often.  This also means they will probably take longer to sleep through the night.  This will apply to some babies, not for all – there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to babies.  Always remember that.  On the flip side, breastfed babies will generally be more content, are at a reduced risk of colic, have stronger immune systems – the list goes on.

Anyway, once I really relaxed into the swing of breastfeeding, I found I really enjoyed it.  Yes, there were times it was tiring, especially as I didn’t tend to express so I was responsible for all the feeds, but it also meant that my son always received fresh milk, there was never any worries about sterilising bottles and I felt that he could form a trust that I would always be there for him.  Not all breastfeeding mothers need to do this.  It’s a personal choice, as are most aspects of parenting.

Anyway, when I did finally settle into breastfeeding, I decided I would feed my son for the first six months, as recommended by the WHO (World Health Organisation) and would see how things were after that point.  In the meantime, I kept informing myself further on the benefits of breastfeeding and I discovered that the WHO actually recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months, followed by breast milk until the child is two and can receive cow’s milk as a drink.  So if I was to give up breastfeeding, we would have to move onto formula instead.  This didn’t sit well with me at all.

So I continued to breastfeed.  But for some reason I found my support network got smaller.  Society in general seems to have an issue with extended breastfeeding.  The breast is sexualised and once the child is no longer a helpless baby, society deems it no longer appropriate to breastfeed.  I’m not sure I understand why, but I found myself breastfeeding only when I was in the comfort of my own home.  As if I was harbouring a dirty little secret.

But the benefits of extended breastfeeding are based on fact, and society’s lack of support is based on the opinion of uninformed members.  Breast milk actually increases its immune factors in the second year of feeding, hence children who are weaned before that are at a higher risk of illness.  Breastfed children are statistically smarter, and are at a lower risk of obesity.  They are less likely to suffer from behaviour disorders and are more socially adjusted.  Fact.  And the benefits extend to the mother, as she will be at a reduced risk of many cancers.

Time magazine in the US this week sparked great controversy by putting an image of a four-year old boy being breastfed on the cover, with the caption “Are you Mom enough?”.  Judging my social networking sites, there is very little support for this mother.  Whilst she should be admired for her selfless act of caring for her child, instead she is ridiculed and shunned.  She is labelled as being “weird”, “sick” and “wrong”, when in fact the global average for weaning a child is four.  Most children will self-wean, when they are ready.  Why are we in such a rush to do this?  It is the most natural act in the world.  We’re not talking a “Little Britain” skit of a man in his twenties continuing to breast feed, but if the health benefits extend into the second and third year of a child’s life, and they continue to enjoy it, why are we pushing them to stop?

Breast really is best – it is a functional part of the human body and it would do society no harm to consider that before making judgments about when a mother should stop breastfeeding.  I am under no illusion that the breast will be desexualised anytime soon, but for a child, the two are not correlated.  To an infant, the breast is for feeding and for comfort.  Allowing them to extend this part of infancy past the first six months is to be applauded – the facts about the benefits speak for themselves.  Maybe then women like me won’t feel we have to hide behind the comfort of our four walls once our babies pass the six month milestone.  And maybe then we can celebrate our achievements instead.  In Ireland, it is only 3 percent of women who see their breastfeeding journey last beyond the six month milestone.  I’m proud to say I am part of that top 3 percent..