The Week runs from June 27th to July 2nd and the theme is ‘Everyone has a part to play in helping mums to breastfeed’. The early weeks with a new baby are hard for most mothers and some find that time very challenging but support can make a huge difference. Some people around the mother, particularly partners, can offer practical help in looking after the home and the mother so that she can recuperate after the birth and focus on nurturing the baby, which primarily means feeding.

Sometimes skilled support is needed to enable breastfeeding to work better, which often means improving the latch. This can be from health professionals, such as midwives and health visitors, and specialists – breastfeeding counsellors and IBCLCs (International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants); the specialist services include national helplines*. Trained breastfeeding peer supporters are available in many areas and can offer invaluable mother-to-mother support. They often work in volunteer or paid roles in local support groups, where mothers can give each other confidence and build self-reliance through sharing their stories.

Everyone having contact with the mother can be emotionally supportive, indicating that they value what she is doing and respect her decisions, helping to build her confidence that she can make breastfeeding work. These includes friends, relatives, neighbours, GPs, pharmacists, shop staff…

However, alongside these personal contacts, society’s infrastructure and attitudes can also influence a mother’s experiences with infant feeding. A World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative assessment demonstrates the extent to which a country’s support for breastfeeding implements the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding, by scoring ten policy and programme indicators:

1. National policy and funding

2. Baby Friendly in maternity settings

3. WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (the Code)

4. Maternity protection in workplaces

5. Health professional training

6. Support services for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers

7. Accurate and unbiased information

8. Infant feeding and HIV

9. Infant and young child feeding during emergencies

10.Data – monitoring and evaluation

The UK assessment in 2016 showed the variability between indicators, particularly as an assessment identifies gaps and makes recommendations.

2016 UK report

Carrying out a WBTi assessment in a country around every 5 years monitors the progress, or lack of it, in a country. It is time for a reassessment in the UK.

If you would like to be involved in collecting data, please do contact us, and let us know which of the indicators above YOU are interested in?

You can contact us on:

You can also sign up to receive our occasional e-mails:

*National helplines include:

National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 (9.30am to 9.30pm, daily)

NCT Helpline on 0300 330 0700 (8am -12midnight, daily)


Patricia Wise is an NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor and a member of the WBTi UK Steering Group

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s