Breastival, Northern Ireland’s fun-filled family festival has been awarded the Breastfeeding Champion award by the Mama awards in Glasgow this week.
The unique annual festival which takes place this year on Saturday 3rd August, aims to support, normalise and celebrate breastfeeding in Northern Ireland as part of everyday life.
Nuala Toman, Breastival Board member accepted the award at the ceremony in Glasgow,
“We are so delighted to have won a MAMA award and get the recognition for all the time and the effort we put in every year. We are passionate about changing how society views breastfeeding, challenging outdated attitudes and celebrating breastfeeding with humour and creativity.
It is so important Breastival exists, especially in a region of the UK where the breastfeeding rates are so low. Breastival is fun and we involve everyone, not just mums and babies but dads, parents to be and grandparents, friends and supporters too.”
MAMA is the largest independent annual midwifery and maternity conference in the UK, and brings delegates from all parts of the country as well as an international audience to Scotland for two days of best practice, personal and professional development, and inspirational speakers.
Breastival triumphed over 70 other organisations from across the UK to take the prize of Breastfeeding Champion (group). Last year’s Champions were also from Northern Ireland, the online community Breastfeeding in Northern Ireland Facebook group, where women can join to find advice and support from other NI mums.
Founded by two mums in Belfast, Breastival aims to normalise what has sometimes been a controversial subject in Northern Ireland. Despite the NHS and World Health Organisation recommendation that children be breastfed until the age of two and beyond, less than 7% of children in Northern Ireland are breastfed past six months. Those who choose to breastfeed can sometimes feel isolated and unsupported in a society where breastfeeding is uncommon.
For the last two years, mums, dads, babies, children, parents to be, grandparents, friends and supporters gathered together for a fantastic day of workshops for adults and kids, talks with local and international experts, meeting new friends and celebrating World Breastfeeding week.
Breastival has been growing each year and last year saw over 1500 people registered to attend the Ulster Museum to take part in a range of activities from Babywearing workshops, pregnancy yoga, the Big Latch-on, topical chats and practical support to a ‘Politics of Milk’ political panel discussion.
Breastival is back again in 2019 at the Ulster Museum in Botanic Gardens on Saturday 3 August. It’s no coincidence that both are part of the Public Health Agency’s Breastfeeding Welcome scheme.
Jennifer Hanratty, co-founder of Breastival said,
‘We are totally shocked by this major win. We have so much fun creating this festival and our other events and projects throughout the year but it’s a challenge to find time to do it all with full-time work and raising our families.
We’re indebted to the wonderful volunteers who have made the event possible each year. This recognition will motivate us all to keep working for families in Northern Ireland who want to breastfeed”.
Breastival is led by four mums, co-founders Jennifer Hanratty and Jennie Wallace and board members Nuala Toman and Claire Flynn as well as being supported by a number of volunteers.