Infant Feeding in Emergencies – Resources for supporting families from #Ukraine #IYCFE

Infant Feeding in Emergencies – Resources for supporting families from #Ukraine #IYCFE

Our WBTi work has revealed that in the UK we have no national guidance on the support and feeding of infants and young children, or pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, during emergencies. There is currently a postcode lottery of Local Resilience Forums who include a few details in their advice to the public such as “Remember to pack formula and nappies for your baby”, but there is no national guidance for LRFs and local authorities that they should include infants and young children in their planning.

This page will serve as a repository for resources for those planning services and those providing feeding support for Ukrainian families with infants and young children.

Breastfeeding provides infants with food security, immune protection, and emotional comfort during disasters.
Basic priorities in an emergency:

1) Support new mothers to hold their babies skin to skin and begin breastfeeding within the first hour.

2) Support mothers who are breastfeeding, partially or fully breastfeeding, to continue breastfeeding and increase their milk supply if needed: provide access to skilled feeding support.

3) Protect infants who are not breastfed: Trained infant feeding / nutrition support teams from trusted NGOs like UNICEF will provide access to safe supplies of appropriate infant formula for babies that need it, and support with safe preparation under hazardous conditions.

4) Protect all infants: breastmilk substitutes and feeding equipment (infant formulas and other milks, bottles, teats, breast pumps and also donor human milk) will be provided by trusted NGOs like UNICEF; the public should AVOID sending donations of these into high risk settings, but send donations of funds to trusted NGOS instead. This will enable them to provide families with what is needed on the ground.

These organisations are members of the Infant Feeding in Emergencies Core Group and have created the international Operational Guidance on Infant Feeding in Emergencies. Please consider supporting their work with families with infants and young children.

We have collected links to infant feeding resources in Ukrainian, and also in the languages of countries housing refugee families, for breastfeeding helpers and aid workers in those countries.

Please send us any suggestions for additional resources

We have a few other resources not included here; please email us any enquiries.

NOTE: we will continue to add links and resources to this page, and these organisations are continuing to add further translations into more languages – please make sure that you clear your cache, or ‘refresh’ the page, each time you open any of these links to ensure that you find the most up to date page.

NOTE: We are providing these resources as a public service, but we cannot read the resources in other languages ourselves, so we cannot always vouch for the accuracy of the contents. Please have someone fluent in the language read it for you.

CONTACT: wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org

WHERE TO START? Watch this 4 minute introductory video from Save the Children

Aid worker or emergency planner? Short video here: how can you incorporate best practice into your support for Ukrainian families?

GET INFORMED: Read the first 25 pages of the Guidance for an overview of best practice.

Resources from the Global Breastfeeding Collective, led by WHO and UNICEF

It is important to continue breastfeeding if you are COVID positive: your milk can pass antibodies to your baby! More resources HERE.

UNICEF UK Baby Friendly resources

Guidance for local authorities on infant feeding during COVID19 (from BFI, First Steps Nutrition Trust, and NIFN). First line guidance for UK local authorities responsible for supporting families

The provision of formula in food banks (November 2020)

Statement on infant formula in food banks (November 2020) – signposting

See also the response to Question 11 on formula donations and distribution in their FAQ here

International humanitarian guidelines and operational guidance

Sphere Handbook

Operational Guidance on Infant feeding in Emergencies
for Emergency Relief Staff and Programme Managers

Available in numerous languages

Media Guide and Guide on writing/ talking about infant feeding in emergencies
These are extremely useful for humanitarian aid organisations and for the media in framing the situation

Guidance for helpers not trained in supporting infant feeding

This short leaflet was written for local authorities and those supporting Afghan refugee families but could be useful for those supporting Ukrainian refugees in the UK. It sets the context, lists some useful resources for parents, provides information about making up powdered infant formula correctly and describes useful actions in some possible scenarios.

Infant feeding support resources – multiple languages

Rapid Feeding Assessment Key Phrases in multiple languages (including Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, Polish and English – scroll down the page)

Simple Points for Helpers – infant feeding in emergencies in multiple languages (including Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, Polish and English – scroll down the page)


Pictorial counselling cards in many languages including Russian, adapted to include COVID19 recommendations. Some are full pictorial sets, while some are simply the translation matrix.

Infant Feeding flyer for families in transit (including English, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, updated for COVID19). Developed by the volunteer team from Infant Feeding Support for Refugee Children/ Safely Fed

Posters and booklets in Ukrainian hosted by the Lithuanian IBCLC Association

Pictorial book about breastfeeding (no words) from La Leche League Netherlands. The PDF is free to use for all. Printing and sharing is allowed, as long as the original file (including credits) is unaltered. Price listed on website is for printed version.

Breastfeeding resources in multiple languages including Ukrainian, Romanian, Russian. (From the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, USA)

Breastfeeding Matters – A Guide to Breastfeeding for Women and their Families (from best Start, Ontario Canada) can be downloaded free in Russian and other languages

Translations of key phrases, breastfeeding infographics in many languages, and more: Safely Fed European resources

La Leche League International: Variety of resources and infographics in infant feeding in emergencies translated into multiple languages – most are directed at mothers and parents

Global Health Media: Videos on childbirth and breastfeeding topics.

Infant Feeding in Emergencies Social Media resources:

Infant Feeding Support for Refugee Children Facebook Page: Memes/ graphics in multiple languages, with appropriate captions

La Leche League International Facebook page: Memes/ graphics in multiple languages, aimed at mothers and parents

Safely Fed UK Facebook page – volunteers welcome to create graphics in Canva and to monitor the page! Contact WBTi UK: wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org

For policy makers, emergency planners, media and humanitarian aid workers

Policy resources, media guide, training materials: Infant Feeding in Emergencies Core Group

IYCFE Hub: global hub of resources

Background information on breastfeeding in Ukraine: WBTi 2015 Ukraine Assessment Report

Policy resources, translations of key phrases, and more: Safely Fed European resources

Please do contact us if you are interested in volunteering or have some useful resources to share!!

CONTACT: wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org

Helen Gray MPhil IBCLC is Joint Coordinator of the WBTI UK Steering Team, and Policy and Advocacy Lead at Lactation Consultants of Great Britain. Her research interests include human rights and infant and young child feeding in emergencies.

WHO calls out aggressive marketing by infant formula companies

WHO calls out aggressive marketing by infant formula companies

Launch of report

A shocking new report on formula marketing which was commissioned by the World Health Organisation and Unicef has been launched. Called ‘How the marketing of formula milk influences our discussions on infant feeding’, it is a large scale and thorough report in which women’s voices are a key part. The report can be downloaded from this page.

Eight countries were included (Mexico, Bangladesh, UK, Vietnam, S. Africa, Nigeria, China and Morocco) and it involved 8500 mothers talking about their experiences of being targeted and also interviews with health professionals and marketing executives. The survey was conducted by M&C Saatchi World Services, which states on its website: “Our aim is to harness the power of cutting-edge marketing, communications and creativity, so that they become key tenets of behaviour change activity throughout the International Development sector.”

The conclusions of the report are that the marketing is highly targeted, pervasive and exploitative, uses misleading scientific claims and incorporates appeals to aspiration. It therefore backs up robustly what has been known about infant formula marketing for many years. Industry invests more in marketing each year than the funds WHO has available!

Marketing the $55 billion formula milk industry’, the webinar of the launch of the report on 23 February is available here.

What needs to happen:

1. Invest in mothers and families (e.g. good maternity legislation)

2. Protect the integrity of science and medicine (including strong conflict of interest policies)

3. Urgently legislate, regulate and enforce regulations in order to protect all families.

The launch was hosted by Kathriona Devereux, science communicator and Cuidhu breastfeeding counsellor, on behalf of WHO, Unicef, Save the Children and two other organisations. Dr. Nigel Rollins gave a brief history of infant formula marketing and presented the key findings. Anu Narayan of Unicef framed the issue – it’s about marketing, the right to accurate and impartial information, and public health v commercial interests, not about breastfeeding v bottle feeding or limiting access or rights. The study questions were:

  • What are women’s experiences of and attitudes towards formula marketing?
  • What are health professionals’ experiences of and attitudes towards formula marketing?

The presentation was followed by comments from a panel that comprised Helen Clark (former Prime Minister of New Zealand), Rebone Ntsie, dietitian from South Africa, Duong Vu from Alive and Thrive in Vietnam, Professor Caroline Homer, specialist in maternal and infant nutrition, and Katie Gilbert, Managing Director at M&C Saatchi World Services. Recommendations for action from the panel included: framing the issues as supporting the right to health, engaging political leaders, recognising the scale and urgency of the problem, improving national regulations and checking imports comply with regulations. It was also suggested that public health needs both to provide the services that mothers need and to demonstrate empathy in its communications, as breastfeeding counsellors are trained to do, indicating understanding of what it’s like to be a mother; formula marketing conveys that impression of understanding.

Worryingly, updating the International Code to address marketing through social media better was also suggested; however, the Code has been updated by 19 subsequent resolutions since 1981 to close loopholes and it does cover all marketing. Governments need to have strong enforceable regulations to implement the Code and resolutions, including addressing digital marketing, and thus protect infants and young children.

What wasn’t mentioned was the significant negative environmental impact of formula feeding. Protecting and supporting families who want to breastfeed to do so will reduce that negative impact.

What can you do?

Sign the WHO open letter #EndExploitativeMarketing.

In addition there is a petition to stop unethical formula research on babies, and particularly a new study in Africa in which low birthweight exclusively breastfed babies will randomly be allocated formula.

If you’d like to check the content of the current UK Laws, the Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG) has information and links on its website.

Author

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

Infant Feeding in Emergencies – Resources for supporting #Afghan families #IYCFE

Infant Feeding in Emergencies – Resources for supporting #Afghan families #IYCFE

Our WBTi work has revealed that in the UK we have no national guidance on the support and feeding of infants and young children, or pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, during emergencies. There is currently a postcode lottery of Local Resilience Forums who include a few details in their advice to the public such as “Remember to pack formula and nappies for your baby”, but there is no national guidance for LRFs and local authorities that they should include infants and young children in their planning.

This page will serve as a repository for resources for those planning services and those providing feeding support for families in crisis in the UK.

Currently there are many gaps in the support for families who have been evacuated from Afghanistan, so resources in Afghan languages are collected here.

Please send us any suggestions for additional resources

We have a few other resources not included here, including Rapid Assessment Tools and Simple Phrases about feeding, and a Peer Counsellor Training Curriculum in Dari; please email us any enquiries.

CONTACT: wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org

NOTE: We are providing these resources as a public service, but we cannot read the resources in other languages ourselves, so we cannot always vouch for the accuracy of the contents. Please have someone fluent in the language read it for you.

UNICEF UK Baby Friendly resources

Guidance on infant feeding during COVID19 (from BFI, First Steps Nutrition Trust, and NIFN)

First line guidance for local authorities responsible for supporting families

The provision of formula in food banks (November 2020)

Statement on infant formula in food banks (November 2020) – signposting

See also the response to Question 11 on formula donations and distribution in their FAQ here

International humanitarian guidelines and operational guidance

Sphere Handbook

Operational Guidance on Infant feeding in Emergencies
Operational Guidance for Emergency Relief Staff and Programme Managers
Available in numerous languages

Guides on writing/ talking about infant feeding in emergencies and Media Guide
These are extremely useful in framing the situation

Guidance for helpers not trained in supporting infant feeding

This short leaflet sets the context, lists some useful resources for parents, provides information about making up powdered infant formula correctly and describes useful actions in some possible scenarios.

Infant feeding resources – multiple languages

Rapid Assessment tools in various languages – contact wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org

Infant Feeding Counselling resources
Pictorial counselling cards in many languages, adapted to include COVID19 recomendations

Infant Feeding flyer for families in transit (English, Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish)

Developed by the volunteer team from Infant Feeding Support for Refugee Children/ Safely Fed

Email us for more languages

Pictorial book about breastfeeding (no words) from La Leche League Netherlands

The PDF is free to use for all. Printing and sharing is allowed, as long as the original file (including credits) is unaltered. Price listed on website is for printed version.

Breastfeeding resources in multiple languages (Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, USA)

Infant Feeding in Emergencies Social Media resources:

Support for Refugee Children Facebook Page
Memes/ graphics in multiple languages, with appropriate captions

Safely Fed UK Facebook page – volunteers welcome to create graphics in Canva and to monitor the page! Contact WBTi UK: wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org

Resources in Afghan languages: Dari and Farsi

Background information on breastfeeding in Afghanistan: WBTi 2019 report on Afghanistan

Pictorial counselling cards for Afghanistan, in Dari

Infant Feeding flyer for families in transit: versions in Farsi and English

Developed by the volunteer team from Infant Feeding Support for Refugee Children/ Safely Fed

Breastfeeding Confidence booklet by the Australian Breastfeeding Association, in Dari

Video from UNICEF in Dari

Breastfeeding Matters – An Important Guide to Breastfeeding for Women and their Families (from best Start, Ontario Canada) can be downloaded free in Farsi

Breastfeeding information in Farsi and other languages (Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, USA)

Please do contact us if you are interested in volunteering or have some useful resources to share!!

CONTACT: wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org

Helen Gray MPhil IBCLC is Joint Coordinator of the WBTI UK Steering Team, and Policy and Advocacy Lead at Lactation Consultants of Great Britain. Her research interests include human rights and infant and young child feeding in emergencies.

#WBW2021 Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Holding Time exhibit by Lisa Creagh

#WBW2021 Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Holding Time exhibit by Lisa Creagh

We are thrilled to have a guest blog from artist Lisa Creagh, illustrated with her powerful photographs, to wrap up #WBW2021
Her work focusing on mothers and breastfeeding brings out the importance of everyone in society understanding, supporting and protecting breastfeeding.

Holding Time is an ongoing work designed to create greater cultural awareness of the needs of breastfeeding mothers. The work has a conceptual framework as the central theme is motherhood and time. The centerpiece is a three screen installation of animated portraits of mothers alongside a timepiece which grows as time passes.

The project is multi-channel, multi platform and operates city to city. By working with academics, health professionals and grassroots networks it is a large piece of socially engaged feminist art that is intended to bring about meaningful change in UK breastfeeding policy. 

In Coventry I was commissioned by Warwick University to create a piece combining a grid of mothers with audio about their breastfeeding experiences. It was understood that I may not manage to actually capture Coventry mothers, given the extraordinary circumstances of 2020. So i devised a project that could run without human contact, hoping that the conditions would eventually change. Mothers were recruited via social media and through a network of partners from the Coventry Family Health and Lifestyle Services. I met the infant Feeding Team in August 2018 and received great enthusiasm from them and one of their partners, a project called MAMTA that works with BAME mothers who wish to breastfeed.

When the call for participants went out, we had an overwhelming response! In February I  interviewed sixteen mothers via zoom, suggesting the storytelling workshops (also zoom) to those I felt would benefit. Not everyone took up this offer but those that did reported great benefits from having the chance to discuss openly with other mothers the issues they had faced in establishing breastfeeding. Rachel New, the radio producer and writer who devised and ran the workshops on behalf of Creative Lives did an amazing job of really getting the group to face each other and themselves, to pull out the wealth of experience they had between them and craft this into written pieces.

Breastfeeding is such a complex issue and so poorly understood. Mothers came from a wide range of backgrounds – young, older, experienced, new, British, South Asian, and African, reflecting the incredible diversity and cultural richness found in Coventry which has been welcoming people from across the world for many decades. I was hoping to bring out the contrast between mothers who had inherited an unbroken cultural inheritance of breastfeeding vs those, like me who had needed to start from scratch.

I waited hopefully for the restrictions to lift and finally on April 12th 2021 it was legal again to set up a photo studio. With the help of some local talent and the support of a wonderful arts organisation, Artspace, I was finally able to set up a temporary photo studio in Coventry in early May. Now all the mothers I had met only virtually started to appear every day at the door in 3D! it was a wonderful experience to meet them all finally, albeit under strict Covid safety conditions. 

By now the Storytelling group had a WhatsApp group and were organizing park meetups. We quickly set up a WhatsApp group for everyone and once the week was over I went into a supercharged post production period. My commission and proposal to Arts Council England had not included new animation but I felt it would be a travesty to the mothers who had shown such support and commitment to the project, to show mothers form another city in the final show. On my last night in the Premier Inn (I spent a lot of time in the Premier Inn) I decide I could make a new piece in time for the show.

It as an ambitious plan but I feel tremendously proud of the work that came out of Coventry: 12 new animated portraits, one large group portrait, sixteen VLOGS still being released onto Youtube channel and a legacy of seven still images hanging permanently in the labour ward where each mother gave birth, at UHCW in Coventry to inspire new mothers in the city to listen to their stories and if they can, follow them on the journey of breastfeeding.

Here’s a selection:

Hannah and Jacob, 2021

Hannah had a very premature baby who, at 25 weeks, was lucky to survive. She expressed for many months until finally she was given the go ahead to feed Jacob on the breast. Her story is an epic journey of resilience, stamina and self belief with some real insight into what mothers under this tremendous pressure need to keep going: https://youtu.be/P22EgsAIvJQ

Rayyan and Yusuf, 2021

Rayyan is a typical Coventry mother, although she would point out she was actually born in Hull…she lives in a tight knit family who supported her through some incredibly dark days after the birth of her first child. She came through it and is now tremendously positive about her experience and the support she received from family and the local maternity team: https://youtu.be/wrfbEAFB2HI

Mel and Harley, 2021

Mel is breastfeeding her third child and talks about finally feeling confident enough go to baby groups. She is very funny and I think we can all relate to her description of herself when she was a new mother and was too embarrassed to feed in public, even when she had the support of her mother by her side: https://youtu.be/vNnmPHN8Jj0

Hema and Devani, 2021

Hema was one of the first mothers I met in Coventry, back in 2018 at a Big Latch event. She is a tremendous role model as someone who came through huge physical challenges to breastfeed and eventually trained as a peer to peer mentor and is now supporting many mothers in the Coventry Gujarati community. It was fascinating hearing about how Hema sought help when she needed it and is now there to help others: https://youtu.be/5Ku97-Vig3k

Emilie and Jean, 2021

Emilie is not alone in finding herself surprised to be ’still’ feeding her child aged three. I found it really sweet how she says that it wasn’t the plan (but there never really was a plan….). I meet so many mothers who have fed full term doing this work and I’m always fascinated to hear their insights as it really is a journey of self discovery, as much as learning about your child and their needs: https://youtu.be/i4rsRJBy3wg

Follow online on #BreastfeedingBuddy

Holding Time Cheshire and Merseyside: https://holdingtime.org/cam/

https://www.lisacreagh.com/holding-time-1

www.youtube.com/c/HoldingTime

@TheHoldingTimeProject

@holdingtimeproject

Improving Me https://www.improvingme.org.uk/about-us/

Improving Me

The NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s Women and Children’s Partnership proudly announce the Holding Time Project launch and call for participants

Women are invited to express an interest in any of the following:

1. Mother-talk with Lisa: Interview with the artist about your breastfeeding experience for a 5 minute VLOG to be distributed on social media channels and Youtube. 16th September through to 28 October 2021 For examples see www.youtube.com/c/holdingtime

2. Group Mother-speak:  Zoom storytelling workshops led by the experienced BBC Producer, Rachel New over six weeks starting on 16th September through to 28 October 2021. These collaborative writing workshops will be delivered in partnership with BBC Radio Merseyside’s community broadcast team. For previous examples listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09g27bg

3. A Breastfeeding portrait: Feed your baby whilst being photographed by the artist in a Covid safe temporary photographic studio during a 1.5 hour session. These portraits will be the basis of animations and stills for a permanent display. January 2022

Mothers who wish to participate should fill out the form at:

http://www.holdingtime.org/CAM

Open to all mothers who have breastfed for any amount of time

Lisa Creagh studied Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmiths College, London. She received a Masters in Photography from Brighton University in 2009. Her work is collaborative in nature: as a producer and curator she has delivered large-scale photographic projects. ‘The Instant Garden’, begun in 2008 was awarded a development grant by The Arts Council of England in 2010 and is still exhibited widely. 
 
Holding Time is a Feminist art piece, which evolved from Lisa’s own difficulties in breastfeeding documented on the project website. Lisa created Holding Time in 2016 to examine the cultural barriers to breastfeeding, listen to the experiences of other mothers and drive change. 
 
Holding Time is a co-created, participatory arts project comprising of videos of conversations and portraits of breastfeeding women, to confront and breakdown the structural and cultural barriers many women face, including stigma about body image. 
www.lisacreagh.com/about

#WBW2021 Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Communities

#WBW2021 Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Communities

‘Creating breastfeeding Communities’.

The Harrow Example.

How can communities change to give parents consistent support with breastfeeding?

Our Harrow model of integrated working across hospital and community services showed that when professionals, lay supporters and specialists worked effectively together under a shared strategy and infant feeding policy, that more parents felt supported to breastfeed their babies.   Over two years higher breastfeeding initiation, continuation and exclusivity rates were beginning to be reported.   Parents found that they experienced less conflicting advice and breastfeeding gradually began to be seen as the normal way to feed babies in Harrow.

This was achieved through joint training sessions involving community and hospital staff.  Midwives, midwifery managers, paediatricians, neonatal nurses, paediatric nurses, A&E nurses, health visitors, peer supporters and breastfeeding counsellors all attended the same sessions.  Through these, they were able to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities and plan care together.  

Peer supporters helped to run daily community drop-in groups with health visitors, and some worked in the antenatal clinic and postnatal wards of the hospital.   Specialist, targeted peer support was offered to teenage parents, those with multiples and Somali mothers.  A copy of Best Beginning’s ‘Bump to Breastfeeding’ DVD was given to all antenatal parents, who were also invited to a popular Saturday morning breastfeeding workshop.

Over a period of ten years, mothers felt comfortable breastfeeding their babies all over the borough and became visible in shopping centres, cafes, supermarkets, parks, and school grounds.  

The National Maternity Review reported in 2016:

‘In Harrow, a multi-ethnic London borough with high infant mortality rates, and areas of deprivation and poverty, the Director of Public Health identified breastfeeding as a top priority for 2006. A multi-professional approach was adopted with Harrow Community Health Services working with the local hospital to improve breastfeeding rates. UNICEF Baby Friendly training was commissioned for midwives, health visitors and support staff in 2007. A peer support training programme began and mothers were recruited from a local support group. A network of breastfeeding support groups was established running from children’s centres, eventually achieving one every day within walking distance for all mothers. In 2008, Bump to Breastfeeding DVDs were given to every pregnant woman by midwives, health visitors and peer supporters. Harrow became accredited as Baby Friendly in 2012 and the local hospital gained the award in 2013. The staff training, peer support programme and free DVDs increased breastfeeding rates, so by 2010 initiation rates had risen to 82% and 6-8 weeks to 73%. By 2013, Harrow had 87% of mothers initiating and 75% breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks (50% exclusively), with one of the lowest drop-off rates in the UK. UNICEF assessed Harrow for its re-accreditation in 2014 and stated that it was the only local authority in the UK where breastfeeding was the ‘normal’ way to feed babies’.[1]

Other examples of Integrated community breastfeeding support:

https://www.wearebesideyou.co.uk/Swindon

Harrow was featured in the UK WBTi report in 2016, as an example of good practice

Email us at wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org

Sign up to our mailing list HERE


Dr Alison Spiro -Specialist health visitor (rtd) is a member of the WBTi UK Steering Group.


[1] ‘national-maternity-review-report.pdf’ (2016). Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/national-maternity-review-report.pdf

#WBW2021 Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Government

#WBW2021 Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Government

It has long been recognised that breastfeeding is the ‘single most effective intervention’ to improve health and support human rights, while making excellent economic sense and reducing social inequality.

National governmental leadership in the UK and devolved nations could make a significant difference by making legal, policy and structural changes. These would filter down through every level of society to show ACTION for the shared responsibility of protecting and supporting every child’s human right to have the best start in life.

There have been Calls for Action before with slow or indifferent responses. The new Health Security Agency has an opportunity to fulfil its responsibility to the health of England’s population by making positive changes NOW.

A WBTi report identifies gaps and makes recommendations. The UK report in 2016 reported that, for Indicator 1, which covers National policy and whether there is an associated programme and coordination, the scores from the assessment were:

England 1

N.I. 10

Scotland 10

Wales 4

Sadly, the situation remains unchanged in England. It is TIME to invest and implement recommendations, which are supported by the broad alliance of infant feeding agencies who have come together to speak, with one voice, on behalf for all new families’ futures in this uncertain world.

Take ACTION on:

Legislation

  • Introduce legislation for breastfeeding/ expressing in every workplace.

Policy

Structure

  • Establish a structure for monitoring implementation of the Code and that action is taken against violations.
  • Create a multi-sectorial, funded lead, for Infant Feeding in England with a strategy and route to share best practice.
  • Ensure full and equitable access to skilled support for every new mother.
  • Build in improvements to monitoring and collection of data.

All these improvements would help protect the breastfeeding dyad much better and move much closer to the vision of all UK families experiencing a society that is supportive of breastfeeding with ready accessible skilled support available whenever is needed.

Author: Clare Meynell RM (rtd) IBCLC

Clare trained as a child & general nurse before a long career as a midwife and infant feeding lead. more than 25 years. Clare has also led La Leche League peer support training sessions in her local community. Currently, with Helen Gray, Clare jointly coordinates the UK WBTI working group and co presented the first report for the UK in Parliament in November 2016.

Working with her colleagues she hopes to create “Actions for Change”, through the WBTi report recommendations, so the next generation of mothers are enabled to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals and that society better values the health giving properties of human milk as the physiologically normal food for babies.

#WBW2021 Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Peer Support

#WBW2021  Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Peer Support

A network of trained peer support is an essential part of high quality integrated breastfeeding services.

Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) outlines three components that good local breastfeeding services must include, in order to be awarded Baby Friendly accredited status.

Basic, or Routine Care

All health workers who work with new families (health visitors and any allied healthcare assistants in the community services) have been trained to BFI standard (approximately 18 hours of initial in service training, with yearly updates of an hour or more).

Additional services

Here BFI outlines how every health visiting and community service must be embedded in and well supported by a network of trained peer supporters, or other social and trained breastfeeding support. NICE recommends that peer support programmes be externally accredited. Good practice includes not only training, but also regular supervision and updates of skills and knowledge. Typical peer support programmes require peer supporters to be experienced breastfeeding mothers, and often expects them to come from similar communities as the population they are supporting. Training generally is part time, over 16-36 hours. Peer supporters work in a supervised setting, acting as an “informed friend,” and referring complex cases on to health professionals or an advanced breastfeeding practitioner such as an IBCLC or breastfeeding counsellor, using a referral pathway.

Breastfeeding counsellors in the UK are also experienced breastfeeding mothers, so they also provide a type of peer support, or “mother-to-mother” support. Their training typically take around two years, and they are autonomous practitioners, who can be responsible for leading their own local breastfeeding support groups, usually through one of the main UK breastfeeding voluntary organisations.

Mothers who are experiencing breastfeeding challenges often need more than one visit – and they need the time that it requires for skilled listening as well as exploration of possible breastfeeding strategies to resolve the issue. Although many health visitors have additional breastfeeding training and skills, the health visitor workforce is vastly overstretched, and it simply isn’t possible to provide the time and the number of visits that many breastfeeding mothers need.

But peer support programmes can provide this – they offer groups where lonely mothers can meet others and gain confidence in their own mothering, alongside skilled listening and well- informed support. Many mothers will find their own “village” in their local breastfeeding support group, and will return again and again. Some will go on to train as peer supporters or breastfeeding counsellors themselves.

Peer support groups are the beating heart of breastfeeding support

Helen Gray, WBTi Joint Coordinator
WBTi audit of peer support and breastfeeding counsellors provided by the voluntary sector, 2016
In Part 2 of our WBTi UK Report

Specialist support

Every area should have a referral pathway to specialist care at the IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) or similar level, for those complex cases where breastfeeding issues cannot be resolved at the level of basic/ routine care or by additional peer support.

The different roles of breastfeeding support in the UK have been outlined in the chart below:

Who’s Who in Breastfeeding Support and Lactation in the UK, from Lactation Consultants of Great Britain

WBTi’s research: Case studies of best practice
The WBTi 2016 Report featured several case studies of areas who showed best practice in providing well joined up, integrated breastfeeding services: Brighton and Harrow.

Case studies of two breastfeeding services providing integrated support, 2016.
In Part 2 of our WBTi UK Report

More recently, our WBTi team has presented posters featuring these and additional case studies of best practices in providing integrated breastfeeding services: Medway, Harrow and Swindon.

WBTi Poster on Integrated Breastfeeding Services.

These examples of best practice in integrated breastfeeding services gave concrete results.

They demonstrated:

– a 2% rise in breastfeeding rates in a socially deprived area in 2018 (Medway),

– a 15% rise in initiation and a 12% rise in continuation of breastfeeding over a six year period (Harrow)

– and a 6% reduction in drop off rates from birth to 6-8 weeks over six years (Swindon).

Our WBTi team are always on the lookout for further examples of best practice in integrated breastfeeding services, and we submit them to Public Health England. Please do contact us if you would like to submit your local services!

Email us at wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org

Sign up to our mailing list HERE

Banner photo credit: Pixabay

Helen Gray MPhil IBCLC is Joint Coordinator of the World Breastfeeding Trends (WBTi) UK Working Group. She is also an accredited Leader (breastfeeding counsellor) with La Leche League of Great Britain.

#WBW2021 Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Fathers

#WBW2021  Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Fathers

For Day 2 of WBW we are very pleased to have a guest blog by Health Visitor and Clinical Research Fellow Dr. Sharin Baldwin.

Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants and its associated benefits to the infant, mother and the wider public health are well documented. Traditionally breastfeeding promotion and advice have been targeted at expectant and new mothers, with an aim to increasing breastfeeding rates in infants. In recent years it has been acknowledged that partners play an important role in supporting women’s decision to breastfeed, while also providing practical and emotional support with the continuation of breastfeeding. Research highlights the important role of fathers in promoting and supporting their partners with breastfeeding (Tohotoa et al., 2011; Datta et al., 2012; Sherriff et al., 2014; Hansen et al., 2018), but in practice fathers continue to report inadequate levels of information and support from health professionals. Training for health professionals therefore should consider men’s needs relating to breastfeeding promotion and support, as well as women’s.

New fathers have often reported finding their partner’s breastfeeding experiences to be much more difficult than they had originally anticipated, with many not knowing how to help or support their partner with breastfeeding when they experienced difficulties (Baldwin et al, 2018; 2019). This is where health professionals can really make a difference. They can help educate and prepare expectant fathers better during the antenatal period by providing them with ‘realistic’ information about the time it may take for their partner to establish breastfeeding. It is also important to highlight some of the breastfeeding challenges they may face in early parenthood and what strategies or support are available to overcome them. This will help men to develop more realistic expectations of the processes involved with establishing breastfeeding and make them feel more empowered to support their partner when faced with any difficulties.

While fathers may not be able to be directly breastfeed their babies, they need to know that they play a crucial role in making breastfeeding a success. They can provide practical support to their partners through helping with household duties, giving them a massage, allowing them to rest, making meals and drinks for them, and giving them emotional support through regular praise, reassurance and encouragement. Good levels of breastfeeding support are likely to make the process easier and more enjoyable, while giving women the confidence to continue breastfeeding for longer. Fathers’ involvement in breastfeeding not only has the potential to increase breastfeeding rates and duration, but also contribute to better outcomes for babies, mothers and the wider public health agenda. So, let’s not forget about including fathers when having those crucial discussions and training about breastfeeding!

World Health Organization

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References:

Baldwin, S., Malone, M., Sandall, J., Bick, D. (2018) Mental health and wellbeing during the transition to fatherhood: a systematic review of first-time fathers’ experiences. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation reports, 16(11):2118–91.

Baldwin, S., Malone, M., Sandall, J., Bick, D. (2019) A qualitative exploratory study of UK first-time fathers’ experiences, mental health and wellbeing needs during their transition to fatherhood. BMJ Open 2019;9:e030792. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-030792 https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/9/e030792.info

Datta, J., Graham, B., Wellings, K. (2012) The role of fathers in breastfeeding: decision-making and support. British Journal of Midwifery, 20(3):159–167.

Hansen, E., Tesch, L., Ayton, J. (2018) ‘They’re born to get breastfed’- how fathers view breastfeeding: a mixed method study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 18:238 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-018-1827-9

Sherriff, N., Hall, V., Panton, C. (2014) Engaging and supporting fathers to promote breast feeding: A concept analysis. Midwifery, 30: 667–677.

Tohotoa, J., Maycock, B., Hauck, Y.L., Howat, P., Burns, S., Binns, C.W. (2009) Dads make a difference: an exploratory study of paternal support for breastfeeding in Perth, Western Australia. International Breastfeeding Journal, 4: 15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1746-4358-4-15

Author:

Dr. Sharin Baldwin PhD, MSc, PG Dip, BSc (Hons), HV, RM, RN, QN, FiHV, IHV Research & PIMH Champion

NIHR Clinical Research Fellow, University of Warwick

Clinical Academic Lead (Nursing and Midwifery), London North West University Healthcare Trust

#WBW2021 Protect Breastfeeding: a Shared Responsibility – Health Professionals

#WBW2021  Protect Breastfeeding: a Shared Responsibility – Health Professionals

This is the start of World Breastfeeding Week, which runs from the 1st to the 7th August each year. Our focus this year for Day 1 is Health Professionals.

“It takes a village to raise a child; it takes a community to support mothers to breastfeed

Sue Ashmore, Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative

Sue Ashmore of the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) wrote in 2017 ‘Just as the saying goes: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, it takes a community to support mothers to breastfeed.’ (blog for the Huffington Post). That community includes health professionals but also breastfeeding specialists, such as IBCLCs and breastfeeding counsellors, and trained peer supporters.

Health professionals who have contact with mothers and their babies are a crucial part of that village of support. Since the WBTi report was pubished in 2016, an improvement has been the requirement of the NHS England Long-Term Plan (p.49) that all maternity units work towards achieving Baby Friendly accreditation. In comparison, all Scotland and N.I. maternity units were already accredited by 2016. Meeting this requirement will help provide a good basic standard of infant feeding support in English maternity units but as yet there is no requirement for neonatal units or community services (primarily that means the health visiting service) to achieve Baby Friendly status.

Summary table mapping UK health professional standards against WHO Educational Checklist on Infant and Young Child Feeding. See our report part 1 (for the table) and Part 2 (for details of individual health professions) https://ukbreastfeeding.org/wbtiuk2016/

The 2016 WBTi report highlighted the need for better training for most health professionals who work with new mothers. Since then, we’re very pleased to report that many more resources have been made available, including:

  • The GP Infant Feeding Network (GPIFN) and Hospital Infant Feeding Network (HIFN) were created and both have highly informative websites.
  • There have been some improvements to the paediatric and GP education curricula.
  • BFI has produced learning outcomes for students of several professions – medical, dietetic, pharmacy and maternity support workers/nursery nurses.
  • The University of Glasgow, working with BFI, has developed an e-learning module for first year medical students to support meeting the learning outcomes.
  • The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has regularly updated its position statement on breastfeeding, the latest being June 2021, and includes: ‘RCPCH strongly supports breastfeeding, the promotion of breastfeeding, the provision of advice and support for women, and national policies, practices and legislation that are conducive to breastfeeding. All child health professionals should be trained to deliver simple breastfeeding advice.’
  • The Royal College of General Practitioners launched its position statement on breastfeeding in 2017 and then a free e-learning course on breastfeeding in 2018.
  • An e-book for trainee doctors that I wrote, available on our website.
Free e-book on breastfeeding for doctors, by Patricia Wise
https://ukbreastfeeding.org/supporting-mothers-who-breastfeed-a-guide-for-trainee-and-qualified-doctors/

Thus some progress has been made towards the vision of all mothers who want to breastfeed being able to access seamless support from health professionals, additional breastfeeding specialists and trained peer supporters, all of whom value breastfeeding and are knowledgeable enough either to provide evidence-based information and support themselves or signpost to appropriate support.

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

International Women’s Day – March 8th

International Women’s Day – March 8th

Introduction

The theme of International Women’s Day (IWD) this year is Choose to Challenge. The IWD website explains: ‘from challenge comes change. So let’s all choose to challenge.’ However, challenging can take courage. It’s preferable if it can be done in a way that shows understanding – as a critical friend – rather than confrontational, as the latter can trigger a defensive reaction that blocks change.

The WBTi report in 2016 showed that considerable change is needed to support breastfeeding better in the UK. This is part of achieving a larger picture in which babies are valued and there is no discrimination against women. In part it is a human rights issue. ‘Women have the right to accurate, unbiased information in order to make an informed choice about breastfeeding … and they have the right to … appropriate conditions in public spaces for breastfeeding which are crucial to ensure successful breastfeeding.’

IWD is also an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements. How amazing it is that the female body naturally produces milk that is just right for her baby – in nutrition and immunity – and the milk changes to match her baby’s changing needs. But childbearing is no reason to discriminate against women in a different role – in the workplace. And, turning to economics, GDP does not include unpaid work or the production of human milk, leading to the anomaly that increased formula sales increase GDP and greater production of valuable human milk reduces it!

What are some ways of challenging?

Challenging government

This could involve commenting on draft laws when they are out for consultation and/ or supporting amendments, as is happening with the Domestic Abuse bill currently going through Parliament, which currently overlooks the impact on babies. Writing to your constituency MP to raise awareness of an issue is another way. The UK Regulations on Infant Formula and Follow-on formula are still considerably weaker than the WHO International Code and are not enforced, but it is also useful to consider when effort to challenge is most likely to be productive. Revised guidance that was due to come into force in February 2021 has been delayed by a year, but the pandemic has led to some government department timescales slipping.

The original guidance from Public Health England about vaccinations for breastfeeding mothers was discouraging but members of national breastfeeding support organisations and the GP Infant Feeding Network (GPIFN) challenged this, and the guidance was improved. The guidance now states that, although there are no data, ‘vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant, and the benefits of breastfeeding are well known.’

Another opportunity is provided by public consultations on NICE guidance when new guidance is produced or existing guidance is reviewed, as for the Postnatal Guidance in the autumn of 2020.

Commenting on articles or writing them

Recently, several letters were sent to the editor of ‘New Scientist’ following publication of an article which misunderstood why infant formula is not made available at Food Banks, despite Unicef UK already having produced an information sheet.

An article by Naomi Joffe, Flic Webster and Dr Natalie Shenker in 2019, Support for breastfeeding is an environmental imperative, was published in the British Medical Journal, helping to raise awareness among the medical profession.

Challenging myths and poor information on social media sites

Misinformation can spread quickly so it is important, sensitively, to try to prevent its spread.

Challenging supermarkets/ pharmacies and advertising

This could be about special offers in stores that break the UK Regulations; finding the courage to raise this with the manager raises awareness and hopefully lead to change. Advertising that is misleading can be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority. There is relevant information on the Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG) website.

Representing and supporting parents

This might, for example, be working to improve practice by representing service users on a Maternity Voices Partnership or local Breastfeeding Strategy group. It could also involve empowering a mother who has received poor care to make a complaint.

Trained supporters educating and helping parents help to spread evidence-based information and challenge myths. Mothers can face a variety of barriers to achieving their breastfeeding goals – being separated unnecessarily from their baby, poor and conflicting advice, undermining comments, over-cautiousness when medicines are prescribed……..Enabling them to overcome such barriers can be like starting ripples in a pool that then influence others positively.

Looking to the future

The pandemic has shown that people with underlying health issues such as obesity or diabetes, which are linked to a poorer immune system, are at greater risk of severe Covid-19. Breastfeeding helps babies establish a balance gut microbiome which in turn aids the development of a strong immune system.

With global warming and the overuse of the Earth’s resources, it is essential to reduce carbon emissions and live much more sustainably. Breastfeeding is the most locally produced food there can be. In contrast, the manufacture and use of formula milks leaves significant carbon and water footprints.

Thus supporting mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish helps in very significant ways – improving population health and protecting the Earth. In addition, mothers who achieve their breastfeeding goals are less likely to suffer mental ill-health or have feelings of guilt, loss and failure. Infants have a right to the highest attainable standard of health and they also gain because they receive breastmilk and experience the nurturing effects of breastfeeding for longer.

Patricia Wise is an NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor, a member of the WBTi UK Steering Group, and the author of Supporting Mothers Who Breastfeed: A guide for trainee and qualified doctors