National Infant Feeding Networks (NIFN)

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The National Infant Feeding Network 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 co-ordinated 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 new neonatal branch.

This mapping document shows how the nine National Infant Feeding Network regions correspond to the new NHS England regional structures.

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Neonatal NIFN

England: NeoNIFN

Thanks to a grant from the Department of Health, weset up a neonatal branch of the National Infant Feeding Network (NeoNIFN), specifically 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 (karenr@unicef.org.uk) for further details.

Scotland: NeoSIFAN

This group of infant feeding advisors who are involved in the implementation of  the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative neonatal standards. The purpose of our group is similar to SIFAN but focusing 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.

At our last meeting we discussed:

  • the role on donor milk in NICU
  • data collection and how we can improve this nationally
  • tools which promote consistency of information sharing for parents and staff.

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 gillian.bowker@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

East of England

Coordinator: Jacky Syme

A midwife and now a Health Visitor, Jacky works as Practice Development Lead for the 0-19 services in SEPT Community Health Services Bedfordshire. Since becoming a midwife in 1985, breastfeeding has been a real passion and Jacky has performed a number of roles specific to infant feeding over the years in Midwifery and Health Visiting. She is the Unicef UK Baby friendly lead in SEPT Bedfordshire, ensuring that the organisation maintains the Unicef UK Baby Friendly standards which they achieved together with all children’s centres in Bedford and Central Bedfordshire Councils in 2013.

The East of England Infant Feeding Co-ordinators’ Meetings

As a group we meet three-four times a year. We provide a forum where infant feeding leads can meet, learn, share and support each other in our day-to-day jobs. The 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.

The group is welcoming, informal and friendly and uses ‘action learning’ to progress support for each other and mothers and babies in their area of practice.

If you are an infant feeding co-ordinator 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 – please email me.

Contact details

jacky.syme@sept.nhs.uk; 01234 317151, mobile: 07943 523806 or via SEPT Community Health Services, Woburn Court, 2 Railton Road, Woburn Road Industrial Estate,  Bedford, Bedfordshire MK42 7PN.

East Midlands

Coordinator: Theresa Drozdowska

My name is Theresa Drozdowska and as one of the 9 National Infant Feeding Network leads, I represent the East Midlands.  After 20 years midwifery experience, I became the Infant Feeding lead for Nottinghamshire Community, taking my Trust from the beginning to full Baby Friendly accreditation hopefully by the end of this year.  Since being in post, I have trained as a lactation consultant and am due to complete a Masters in Public Health which has further fuelled my passion and commitment to breastfeeding.

We meet 3-4 times a year, and as we cover a substantial area from Lincolnshire, across to Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, we vary the venues throughout the area.  Our friendly group comprises of hospital and community practitioners, as well as University lecturers, who regularly meet to share experiences and innovative practice.  We have all gained tremendous support from each other, and have been instrumental in guiding each other through the stages of BFI accreditation.

We have recently began to 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.

Contact Details

If you are an infant feeding co-ordinator 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 – please email me: Theresa.drozdowska@nottshc.nhs.uk; tel 0115 8835193.

London

Coordinator: Smita Hanciles

Hello, my name is Smita Hanciles and I am the Community Infant Feeding lead in Camden and manage a Peer Support service as part of this role.  I previously worked as the Infant feeding lead in Lewisham (Lewisham Council Public Health Team) and Tower Hamlets (Barts Health NHS Trust).  I am also part of the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Team.

As a group we meet four times a year and also 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.

Contact Details

If you would like to know more please email me: smita.hanciles@nhs.net or Tel: 07834318531

North East

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: rnunn@nhs.net

North West

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.

Contact details

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: Kathryn.ashton@wwl.nhs.uk 01942 778569.

South East

Coordinator: Maggie Pringle

Hello, my name is Maggie Pringle and I am the NIFN lead for the South East, covering Surrey, Kent and Medway, Sussex and the Thames Valley. My background is in midwifery and health visiting and I currently work as the Infant Feeding Coordinator for CFHS in West Surrey where I led on implementation of the Baby Friendly Initiative best practice standards from the beginning to full accreditation in 2015 and re-accreditation in 2018. I am also part of the Unicef UK Baby Friendly team.

Our regional NIFN meetings take place three times a year in London. 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, and between meetings have an active culture of information sharing and problem solving via email.

If you would like to know more please do contact me via email: mpringle@nhs.net or telephone: 07747 485 186.

South West

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: elizabethm@unicef.org.uk, tel 07989 258 857

West Midlands

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 amanda.costello@nhs.net.

Sample documentsMaking 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 sally.goodwinmills@leeds.gov.uk / 07737941591

Scotland: SIFAN

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.

Chair: Gina Graham gina.graham@nhs.scot / Tel: 07748704901

NeoSIFAN

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 gillian.bowker@nhs.scot

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 / janetD@unicef.org.uk / 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.

Useful resources

Within Scotland we have fantastic resources to support breastfeeding nationally, these include

For more information, contact Karen on Karen.mackay3@nhs.net.

Northern Ireland

Coordinator: Liz Hood

NIFN Northern Ireland (NIFN NI) currently meets three times a year and is supported by the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland through the Breastfeeding Coordinator Janet Calvert. 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.

NIFN NI is currently chaired by myself, Liz Hood. I am also the Infant Feeding Lead for the Community in Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and recently have become a casual Unicef UK Baby Friendly Professional Officer based mainly within Northern Ireland. My background is in Health Visiting, however I have been working as an Infant Feeding Lead for the last 8 years, previously in Scotland and more latterly in Northern Ireland.

Chairing NIFN NI is a great privilege due to the opportunity this offers me to coordinate the networking of a group of truly dedicated and knowledgeable professionals who all have a strong desire to support, promote and protect safe infant feeding practices 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. One of the main aims of my current role as Infant Feeding Lead is to ensure Belfast Health Visiting Service also achieves this status over the next couple of years, which will then mean that all babies born in Northern Ireland will receive care from Midwives and Health Visitors from fully Baby Friendly accredited services.

I also have the privilege to represent the NIFN NI group at the wider NIFN meetings in London which again is a great opportunity to network with equally dedicated and passionate colleagues across the country.

The Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland has many evidence based resources available to help support infant feeding which include:

BreastfedBabies.org: https://breastfedbabies.org/

Off to a good start: http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/good-start

For more information regarding NIFN NI please contact Liz Hood: elizabeth.hood@belfasttrust.hscni.net

Wales: WIFN

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).

Universities

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

Contact details: bfi@unicef.org.uk, and join the University NIFN Facebook group.

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.

Stay in touch

You can share resources, ask questions, and stay in touch with your infant feeding network on Facebook and Twitter:

Further information