LIMERICK is well represented in the line-up of finalists at the Friends of Breastfeeding Awards ceremony next weekend with nominees from across the county featuring in several categories.
The awards, which will be presented at a ceremony in Dunboyne Castle Hotel on Saturday night,recognise excellence in breastfeeding promotion, advocacy, and support across both the professional and voluntary sectors on the island of Ireland.
More than 800 nominations were submitted for breastfeeding advocates; breastfeeding initiatives; breastfeeding friendly businesses; health care providers, lactation consultants, midwives, public health nurses and volunteer breastfeeding supporters.
Carmen Murphy, a clinical midwife manager at University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) is shortlisted for the Lactation Consultant of the Year award.
A representative of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), Carmen has been involved in the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which was established to help mothers make informed choices about feeding their babies.
One of her nominators said that Carmen “is not afraid to stand up to colleagues who are misinformed or imparting biased information to breastfeeding and expressing mothers. She challenges healthcare professionals in a respectful manner to ensure the best care and information is given to breastfeeding and expressing women.”
Another referred to how she “works every hour God sends her, never finishes a shift on time and is always thinking of some initiative to improve the hospitals breastfeeding support system. Carmen is critically understaffed in the lactation department, but she never refuses to see a mother and baby and give support”.
Abbeyfeale woman Niamh Kennelly has been nominated for the Midwife/Public Health Nurse of the Year award. A Public Health Nurse with a passion for children’s health, she started a breastfeeding support group in Abbeyfeale with the support of local breastfeeding mothers.
After qualifying as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), she set up an online breastfeeding support group during the Covid pandemic.
A mother of three children, Niamh describes her own breastfeeding journey as having been both “difficult and wonderful.” She says it is something she wishes every woman could experience and that she still misses every day.
One nominator said “the time and dedication Niamh gives to breastfeeding is really unmeasurable. I am forever thankful for the support she gave me to achieve my successful breastfeeding journey. Niamh is a true champion of breastfeeding and most deserving of this award and many more in the future.”
Another UMHL midwife Eimear Tobin, is in the running for not one but two awards having been shortlisted in the categories of Midwife/Public Health Nurse of the Year and Mum of the Year.
She developed a strong interest in breastfeeding and supporting women starting out on their breastfeeding journeys while working on the postnatal award. She describes her colleagues at that time as fabulous mentors who taught her a lot about breastfeeding and how to properly support women and their families.
Her experience of breastfeeding her own children has made her passionate about three areas in particular related to breastfeeding. The first is the importance of a breastfeeding support network, not just for the physical but the mental aspect of breastfeeding too.
The second is normalising breastfeeding in public and she was the face of the ‘We’re Breastfeeding Friendly’ campaign in in 2021, being photographed feeding her own baby in the media coverage of the programme.
Finally, Eimear is passionate about extended breastfeeding and her nominees referred to how hard she works in educating parents and students on the importance of breastfeeding.
The Midwest Breastfeeding Committee is shortlisted in the category of ‘Breastfeeding Initiative of the Year’ for its art exhibition in the Hunt Museum during National Breastfeeding Week 2022.
In operation for almost two decades, the committee aims to actively promote and support breastfeeding in the region by raising awareness and providing a forum for those involved in breastfeeding promotion to collaborate with each other.
Nominations for the Hunt Museum event described it as “an excellent portrayal of the normality of breastfeeding” and “an amazing way for normal breastfeeding images to reach people who have never seen breastfeeding and will have a great positive effect for breastfeeding rates in the future.”