The first meeting of the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) UK will be held on Monday 28 September in London.
The meeting brings together key breastfeeding organisations in the country to complete the first UK WBTi assessment, a detailed exercise that will result in a “report card” on breastfeeding for the UK. This will give a clear picture of the state of breastfeeding – both policies and practices – in the UK.
The partner organisations will then put forward a plan highlighting what actions to take to address the gaps identified.
Launched in 2005 by International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative monitors 10 key breastfeeding policies and programmes, drawn from the WHO’s Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding and the Innocenti Declaration. Over 100 countries have participated in the initiative so far.
The WHO Global Strategy recognises that for breastfeeding to be successful mothers and families need the right support along the whole course of breastfeeding – from giving birth in a Baby Friendly hospital, to going home to find skilled local support from midwives, health visitors, GPs, and mother support groups throughout their communities. After that they need maternity protection and breastfeeding breaks when they return to work. They need accurate information about breastfeeding – without marketing pressure from formula manufacturers – from friends, family and the media, as well as health professionals and policymakers.
Those countries that have enacted the WHO Global Strategy have seen marked improvements in breastfeeding rates. For example, a recent report by Save the Children looked at breastfeeding policies and practices in six countries, including the UK, and highlighted the importance of a strong national policy on infant feeding.
The UK meanwhile has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. Only 1% of babies are exclusively breastfed for six months, despite recommendations by WHO and Department of Health.
The partner organisations involved in WBTi UK assessment include: Public Health Wales, Public Health England, CHIMAT, CPHVA, Institute of Health Visiting, Nursing and Midwifery Council, National Infant Feeding Network, UNICEF Baby Friendly UK, Baby Feeding Law Group, Lactation Consultants of Great Britain, Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, Breastfeeding Network, La Leche League GB, NCT, Best Beginnings, IBFAN Baby Milk Action, Maternity Action and First Steps Nutrition Trust.