Call to Action for breastfeeding in the UK
Our Call to Action for breastfeeding urges the UK and devolved governments to take four key steps to to enable mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish and to protect all babies from commercial interests.
In the UK breastfeeding 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 succeeding. No parent should have to feel the pain of any implication that they have not done the best for their child, but the UK context has become so fraught that conversations about breastfeeding are shut down.
Powerful new evidence about the benefits of breastfeeding provides a compelling case to alter prevailing attitudes and practices. Three ground-breaking pieces of research funded by the Gates Foundation highlight the practical, emotional and cultural barriers that still stand in the way of women breastfeeding and underline the importance of breastfeeding in improving health, saving lives and reducing costs in every country in the world, rich or poor.
We are calling on UK and devolved governments to implement four key actions to create a supportive, enabling environment for women who want to breastfeed:
- Step 1: Develop a National Infant Feeding Strategy Board in each of the four nations, including members from all relevant government departments and tasked with developing a comprehensive National Infant Feeding Strategy and implementation plan.
- Step 2: Include actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding in all policy areas where breastfeeding has an impact.
- Step 3: Implement evidence-based initiatives that support breastfeeding, including the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative, across all maternity, health visiting, neonatal and children’s centre services.
- Step 4: Protect babies and their families from harmful commercial interests by adopting, in full, the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes (“the Code”).
Together, these four steps can help normalise and support breastfeeding, and enable parents to make informed choices about infant feeding.
We need to change the conversation around breastfeeding by stopping laying the responsibility for this major public health issue in the laps of individual women and acknowledging the role that politics and society has to play at every level. The goal of our Call to Action is not to put pressure on women to breastfeed, but to remove the barriers that currently stop women who want to breastfeed from doing so.
The Call to Action is supported by organisations across the UK: read their joint statement of endorsement.
Share your thoughts on changing the conversation around breastfeeding by commenting on our blog: Changing the Conversation Around Breastfeeding.
You can also join the conversation on Twitter: #BFICalltoAction