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Newborn baby boy sucking milk from mothers breast on the beach. Portrait of mom and breastfeeding baby. Concept of healthy and natural baby breastfeeding nutrition.

Breastival, the award-winning summer family festival, is gearing up for an eighth year to celebrate all things breastfeeding.

Breastival in the Park, at Ormeau Park in south Belfast, will take place between 10.30am and 3pm and is a free, fun-filled day offering support, learning and a chance to meet other families.

With information stalls, baby classes and workshops for expectant parents, new families, experienced parents and grandparents and supporters, everyone can find something to enjoy.

The area around the Bandstand at Ormeau Park will see some of the very popular and fun activities return for babies and toddlers, including Sign and Sign, Little Learners messy play, yoga, and musician Jackie Rainey who will keep the crowds entertained.

The festival is organised by Breastival and takes place during World Breastfeeding Week from August 1 to 7.

Through this one-day festival and a host of other activities, Breastival seeks to normalise breastfeeding and support families on their breastfeeding journey from pregnancy to birth, early days and beyond. 

Breastival founder and chair Dr Jennifer Hanratty says: “We’re bringing Breastival back to Ormeau Park this year and upping the festival feel for a true celebration. 

“Breastfeeding rates in Northern Ireland are steadily improving. We’ve seen positive improvements in the support available to women through, for example, infant feeding leads and peer support services in place across Northern Ireland. 

“We’re eagerly awaiting the publication of the review of the outgoing breastfeeding strategy for Northern Ireland.

“There is still quite a way to go before we can say that Northern Ireland truly values the contribution that breastfeeding makes to the health of the population, the environment and the economy in Northern Ireland.”

“We are urging the health minister to prioritise a new ambitious breastfeeding strategy that builds on the positives so that progress isn’t lost in the coming years.”

There will be several informal chat sessions in the stretch tents around Ormeau Park’s Bandstand, which will cover topics that women have said are important, including breastfeeding grief, which explores when breastfeeding does not go as expected or hoped. Baby sleep and introducing solids will also be discussed. 

Nadine Humes, who attended Breastival in 2023 with her husband and new baby explains: “My favourite part of Breastival was the Big Latch On.

“It felt really empowering to claim that space together and breastfeed alongside so many other parents. There were loads of baby activities including baby sensory and a great day out for parents and their wee ones.

“I have friends who weren’t supported on their breastfeeding journey even though it was their goal to breastfeed. I know some of them carried guilt and sadness that they didn’t get to have their breastfeeding experience and they felt left out of the breastfeeding narrative.

“I want more families to know that everyone is welcome to attend Breastival, even if their personal breastfeeding journey didn’t go to plan.”

Breastival in the Park takes place from 10.30am until 3pm at the Bandstand at Ormeau Park in south Belfast on August 3.

Tickets are available by clicking here.

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