National Infant Feeding Networks (NIFN)
The National Infant Feeding Network (NIFN) is a network of 800 infant feeding specialists and academics responsible for the support and education of 75,000 health professionals and 5,000 students across England and Northern Ireland, who in turn are responsible for caring for over 800,000 babies, mothers and their families every year.
Supported by UNICEF UK, the network shares and promotes evidence-based practice around infant feeding and very early childhood development to deliver optimum health and wellbeing outcomes for mothers and babies and their families.
Effective communication across the networks is coordinated by nine local leads who provide representation of their members’ views at national strategic level.
Below are full details of your regional NIFN coordinator and information for Infant Feeding Leads wanting to attend a local meeting, as well as information on the NIFN’s neonatal network.
Thanks to a grant from the Department of Health, a neonatal branch of the National Infant Feeding Network (NeoNIFN) was created to support neonatal units to improve practice and standards of care for sick and preterm babies and their families. Find out more and join, or contact Karen Read ([email protected]) for further details.
This group of infant feeding advisors are involved in the implementation of the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative neonatal standards. The purpose of our group is similar to SIFAN but focuses on neonatal care. It provides a platform to share information and knowledge which will support practice. We are lucky to have the representatives from Scottish Government and UNICEF UK at our meetings which take place 3 times a year.
NeoSIFAN is currently chaired by myself, Gillian Bowker. I am the neonatal infant feeding lead for Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Previous to this post I was a neonatal nurse and have worked in various units throughout the UK. Currently all of the units in Glasgow are stage 2 within neonatal and two of them are working towards stage 3. It is an exciting time to be involved in neonates and I look forward to working with NeoSIFAN on our Scottish journey towards accreditation.
For more information contact [email protected]
East of England
Coordinator: Sarah Pickford
Hello, my name is Sarah Pickford and I am a Health Visitor and the Baby Friendly Lead for the Health Visiting service in Bedford community. Since being in post I have lead our service through accreditation in Health Visiting standards and obtained GOLD Achieving Sustainability accreditation in 2019. I am also working as a Professional Officer for UNICEF UK Baby Friendly where I carry out assessments and training on courses within Neonatal, Health Visiting, Maternity and Children Centre specialist areas. So I am fully aware of the challenges that may arise and the benefits of supporting others on their Baby Friendly journey.
Our regional NIFN meetings take place four times a year with some support meetings in-between. We are a friendly group of professionals who share good practice, offer one another support and encouragement and influence infant feeding strategy within the region. We also debate clinical issues and offer practical support for challenges you may face in the workplace.
If you are an infant feeding lead for a Maternity, Neonatal, Health Visiting, or Children’s Centre service, or a University, you would be very welcome to join this friendly & informal group.
If you work in our area and would like to be involved, please contact me at: [email protected] / 07580424026
Coordinator: Natalie Boxall
My name is Natalie Boxall and I am the Specialist Midwife for Infant Feeding at Sherwood Forest Hospitals in Nottinghamshire. My duties include running a frenulotomy service, training, supporting our brilliant Maternity and Neonatal teams, and managing an amazing group of community health care support workers who offer ongoing feeding support for parents in our area. I have previously worked at a stand-alone birth centre and home birth team, and I am passionate about providing informed choice and equitable parent-focused care.
Our group meets 3-4 times each year and covers Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire. These meetings offer a chance to share experiences and evidence and updates in a warm, supportive and safe space.
If you work in our area and would like to be involved, please contact me at: [email protected]
Coordinator: Smita Hanciles
Hello, my name is Smita Hanciles and I am one of the Professional Leads in the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Team. My previous roles have included Community Infant Feeding Lead in Camden (CNWL NHS Foundation Trust), Lewisham (Lewisham Council Public Health Team) and Tower Hamlets (Barts Health NHS Trust).
As a group we currently meet on TEAMS and actively share information and offer support by email between meetings. The meetings are friendly and informal and provide an opportunity to debate clinical issues as well as provide updates from the Baby Friendly team and hear from invited speakers. It also provides space to share practice and help to problem solve with those at a similar stage of accreditation and to feed up into the Infant Feeding agenda nationally.
If you would like to know more please email me: [email protected] or Tel: +44 20 3965 4725
Coordinator: Roslyn Nunn
Hello, my name is Roslyn Nunn. I am a Midwife and currently Infant Feeding Co-ordinator with the Northern Local Maternity System leading on our regional strategy. Previously, I have been an Infant Feeding Lead in Maternity, Health Visiting and Children’s Centre settings supporting Baby Friendly accreditation.
The North East NIFN group meets quarterly with additional virtual drop-in sessions. We are a friendly group who work closely together to share good practice, help develop regional guidance and encourage and support each other with any challenges faced within our areas of work. The meetings also provide an opportunity to feed into the infant feeding agenda nationally, as well as the chance to hear more about the regional leads’ tri-annual meeting.
If you are an infant feeding co-ordinator/lead in a maternity unit, neonatal unit, health visiting service, children’s centre, or university we would love to hear from you, and you are very welcome to join us.
If you would like to know more please do contact me via email: [email protected]
Coordinator: Kathryn Ashton
My name is Kathryn Ashton and I work as Infant Feeding Coordinator at Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust. Prior to taking up my post in 2009 I worked as a neonatal midwife and have always been passionate about breastfeeding. Since being in post I have took our organisation through accreditation in Maternity Services and in 2019 obtained GOLD sustainability accreditation. I also supported our neonatal unit to become the first unit to become Baby Friendly accredited in Neonatal Standards in the North West.
I work in close collaboration with the Health Visiting Lead for Community Services and our Commissioned Breast Feeding Peer Support Service.
As a group we meet three times a year to provide support, share good practice and learn from each other in a friendly environment. We use ‘action learning’ to progress support for each other and mothers and babies in each of our respective areas of practice. Our welcoming and informal meetings also provide an opportunity to feed into the infant feeding agenda nationally as well as the chance to hear more about the English regional leads’ tri-annual meeting.
If you are an infant feeding co-ordinator in a maternity unit, neonatal unit, health visiting service, children’s centre or university within the North West we would love to hear from you and you are very welcome to join us – please email me: [email protected] 01942 778569.
Details to follow – please contact [email protected] for any queries.
Coordinator: Elizabeth Mayo
Welcome to the South West group! We cover a huge area from Swindon, down and across to Dorset one way and the other way to the Welsh border, then down the coastline as far as you can go (including the Scilly Isles). Members of our group travel a long way for our meetings because we get such a lot of mutual support and help from them.
All of the South West NHS services are well on the way to full accreditation or have been at that point for a while so there is a huge amount of experience just waiting to be shared.
We meet three times a year at the Women’s Centre in Exeter.
I am the South West lead for the National Infant Feeding Network. My background is in midwifery, taking my unit from the beginning to full Baby Friendly accreditation. I am also part of the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly team.
Please do contact me if you would like more information: [email protected], tel 07989 258 857
Coordinator: Amanda Costello
Hello my name is Amanda Costello, West Midlands lead for the National Infant Feeding Network. I am a midwife and as an Infant Feeding Lead in a maternity unit I have the responsibility for leading on the implementation of the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) best practice standards. This has taken me through the process from action planning meeting to full accreditation, reassessment and further action planning to address specific weaknesses. So I understand that for all my colleagues in maternity units, community and education this can be a challenging but worthwhile process and I am fully aware of the value of a supportive and strong regional group.
The West Midlands NIFN group has representation from maternity, health visiting, children’s centres, public health and higher education. Collectively we share a great deal of experience, knowledge and skills. We meet three times a year to discuss national, regional and local strategies and provide support through action learning sets.
Our meetings are held 3 times a year at Public Health England, 5 St Philips Place, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B3 2PW. Email [email protected].
Sample documents: Making the Case for Breastfeeding – A paper outlining the drivers and areas for action to improve breastfeeding rates in the region, by Public Health England West Midlands Centre | Template for Public Health Services – This document, by Walsall Council and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, shows how different public services in an area can work together to provide breastfeeding support. | National Infant Feeding Network PHE : Data and Tools introduction and overview
Yorkshire and the Humber
Coordinator: Sally Goodwin-Mills
Hi, my name is Sally and I am the NIFN Lead for the Yorkshire and Humber region. I first qualified as a Children’s Nurse in 1995 and moved on to work in neonatal units until 2005. After that I trained and qualified as a Health Visitor and soon after successfully qualified as an IBCLC. I am now a passionate Infant Feeding and Maternity Health Improvement Specialist, working in Public Health in a large Local Authority. Working with the Health Visiting Service, I have project managed the journey from registering intent to Baby Friendly Gold accreditation, so I am fully aware of the challenges that may arise and the benefits of supporting others on their BFI journey.
Our regional NIFN meetings take place three times a year, with support meetings in between. We are a friendly group of professionals who share good practice, offer one another support and encouragement and influence infant feeding strategy within the region. We also debate clinical issues and offer practical support for challenges you may face in the workplace.
If you are an infant feeding lead for a maternity, neonatal, health visiting or children’s centre service, or a university, you would be very welcome to join this friendly, informal group.
Please contact me [email protected] / 07737941591
SIFAN is a national group for NHS Infant Feeding Advisors from the 14 health boards, university lecturers, academics and others leading on infant feeding work at a local level. Membership also includes the Breastfeeding Leadership Team and representation from the Scottish Government Supporting Maternal and Infant Wellbeing policy team. The group provides a national forum to share good practice, learning and resources, use local expertise to influence national programmes and provide a collective response to consultations and issues of concern. It also provides a forum for mutual support and collaboration.
The group meets quarterly via Microsoft Teams with additional informal support meetings (SIFAN Breastfeeding Blethers) every 4-6 weeks.
Contact details to follow – please reach out to [email protected] with any queries.
NeoSIFAN is the neonatal arm of the national group which was established in 2017. It provides a network to share good practice which will help influence culture change and improve consistency of approach within Scottish neonatal units.
NeoSIFAN also supports ongoing workstreams of the Breastfeeding Leadership Team (neonatal) by sharing local expertise to influence national policies and programmes and provides ongoing support with BFI accreditation.
Chair: Gillian Bowker [email protected]
The Scottish Baby Friendly Initiative Group (SBFI)
SBFI meets quarterly to bring together all of the infant feeding leads in midwifery, neonatal, health visiting and university settings to provide an opportunity to network, discuss, share information and ideas for maintaining the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative standards. The group also shares progress in working to Achieving Sustainability and provides a supportive and nurturing culture for one another.
Chair: Janet Dalzell, UNICEF UK Professional Lead for Scotland / [email protected] / Tel: 07766160668
Milk Bank Scotland
Milk Bank Scotland, hosted by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, continues to provide equitable access to safe, screened donor human milk across Scotland. We continue to see an annual growth in donors, milk donation and recipients. In 2020, nearly 1000 babies across Scotland received donor human milk. We are also now able to support some mothers and babies at home in exceptional circumstances and to provide small amounts of milk to mothers and babies who may need some early supplements to support ongoing breastfeeding.
We accept donors from all over mainland Scotland and are exploring ways to support women on the islands. We continue to work closely with volunteers from Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity who transport milk all over Scotland.
For more information please visit nhsggc.org.uk/your-health/health-services/milk-bank-scotland/ or follow us on Facebook at Milk Bank Scotland or on Twitter @MilkBankScot or in Instagram @scotmilkbank.
Within Scotland we have fantastic resources to support breastfeeding nationally, these include
- Off to A Good Start healthscotland.com/documents/120.aspx
- Feedgood Scotland website feedgood.scot/
For more information, contact Karen on [email protected].
NIFN Northern Ireland (NIFN NI) currently meets three times a year and is supported by the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. The group is comprised of infant feeding representatives from all of the Health Board/Trust areas in Northern Ireland. The group currently has Infant Feeding Leads or breastfeeding coordinators from the various Health and Social Care Trusts along with Public Health Agency, University and SureStart representation. The Neonatal Infant Feeding Leads also attend the NIFN NI meeting but have recently agreed to meet separately in addition to this to focus specifically on progressing standards for neonatal units across Northern Ireland.
In Northern Ireland one hundred percent of the maternity units have achieved full Baby Friendly accreditation and all apart from one of the Health and Social Care Trusts have achieved full accreditation for their Health Visiting services.
The Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland has many evidence based resources available to help support infant feeding which include:
Off to a good start: http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/good-start
Contact: Pauline McKeown, Senior Professional Officer for Northern Ireland: [email protected]
The Wales Infant Feeding Network (WIFN) is the professional forum representing health service infant feeding leads in Welsh Health Boards. It also includes educators and academics in Welsh universities and representatives of Public Health Wales.
The network includes lactation specialists and clinical representatives from maternity, health visiting, neonatal services across Wales.
Meetings will be held at least 3 x per year with other training / urgent meetings convened if/as necessary.
Find out more in WIFN’s Terms of Reference (pdf download).
Contact details to follow – please reach out to [email protected] with any queries.
A National Infant Feeding Network for universities is now in place: this supports infant feeding lead lecturers who hold the responsibility for instigating and maintaining a university’s Baby Friendly educational standards for either midwifery or health visiting pre-registration programmes.
The network of lecturers aims to promote discussion of best infant feeding educational practice within universities, and supports lecturers to come together and share curricula, best practice, learning outcomes and develop centres of excellence.
Supported by Unicef UK, the network shares and promotes evidence-based practice around infant feeding and very early childhood development to deliver optimum health and wellbeing outcomes for mothers and babies (and their families).
Coordinator: Francesca Entwistle
A midwife and midwifery lecturer for over 34 years, Francesca works as Professional Officer – Policy and Advocacy Lead at the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative. Her specialist interest in breastfeeding was consolidated through her research exploring the impact of midwifery training and women’s self-efficacy on breastfeeding outcomes for women from low-income groups. She has worked with the Department of Health to develop policy and practice in relation to maternal and infant nutrition, and regularly consults with key stakeholders to ensure a continued focus on improving public health in the UK through breastfeeding and very early child development. Francesca is a member of the Thought Leadership Group for the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) education standards of proficiency for the future midwife.