Project Coordinator: UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative
Powerful new evidence shows that breastfeeding saves children’s lives and profoundly improves health. Yet the UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.
It is time to stop laying the blame for a major public health issue on individual women, and instead work together to build a supportive, enabling environment for women who want to breastfeed. It is time to change the conversation. Join our campaign to help make sure that more babies can be breastfed in future.
Unicef UK is calling on UK health ministers to improve the health of children and the nation by leading action to remove the barriers – social, cultural, economic, physical and practical – that currently make it difficult and sometimes impossible for women to breastfeed in the UK.
The Case For Change
In the UK breastfeeding is viewed by many as difficult, or even unnecessary because formula milk is seen as a close second best. It is a highly emotive subject because so many families have not breastfed, or have experienced the trauma of trying very hard to breastfeed and not being able to.
The pain felt by so many parents around breastfeeding can close down conversations and lead to accusations that there is too much pressure on women to breastfeed. Whilst no parent should have to feel such pain, and well-meaning efforts to promote breastfeeding have at times been insensitive, the situation has become so fraught that those who speak out for breastfeeding are often met with anger and abuse.
However, powerful new evidence demands that we act now to ensure more babies are breastfed in future. Two major studies funded by the Gates Foundation have delivered extensive and resounding evidence that breastfeeding saves lives, improves health and cuts costs in every country worldwide. This new research leaves us no choice: we must now find a way to build a supportive, enabling environment for all women who want to breastfeed.
Call to Health Ministers in Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland
UK governments must implement four key actions to change the conversation and remove the barriers to successful breastfeeding:
1) Develop a National Infant Feeding Strategy Board in each of the four nations, tasked with creating a strategy and plan to deliver the goal of ensuring more babies are breastfed
2) Include breastfeeding in all policy areas where it has an impact: obesity, diabetes and cancer reduction; emotional attachment and subsequent school readiness; improved maternal and child mental health; wellbeing in the workplace and environmental sustainability
3) Implement effective evidence-based initiatives such as the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative across all maternity, health visiting, neonatal and children’s centre services and local peer to peer support
4) Protect the public from harmful commercial interests by adopting, in full, the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.
Sign up to the campaign here: Call To Action
Categories: Infant Feeding