WBTi General Election Campaign 2017

May – June 2017

Contact your election candidate NOW to ask what support they will provide for families.

During the election campaign we have a great opportunity to contact candidates to ask what they are doing to ensure families get the support they need with feeding their babies.

How babies are fed significantly affects infant and maternal health and wellbeing. The majority of mothers in the UK set out to breastfeed yet there is a huge drop off in the early weeks. Mothers want to breastfeed for longer but 8 out of 10 aren’t getting the support they need to carry on.

In the UK only 1% of babies are exclusively breastfed at 6 months.

Even in a developed country like the UK, low breastfeeding rates are costing the NHS at least £40 million a year, and the overall impact on the economy is estimated at 0.5% of GNI (Gross National Income).

For a summary of this research, see the Introduction in the WBTi  World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK Report 2016.

Whether you breastfed your own children, hoped to breastfeed but didn’t get enough support, or are a healthcare professional or volunteer supporting breastfeeding women, please get involved.

National leadership and policy change are needed. The World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK Report sets out where the UK currently falls short. It includes score cards highlighting what needs to be done. You can download the score card here to show to candidates as ask them to take action. In summary our top asks for government are as follows:

  • To establish leadership in England and Wales with a dedicated coordinator and high level committee to develop national strategies that include improved data collection.
  • To ensure all relevant health bodies fully implement the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative.
  • To fully implement and enforce the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent resolutions.
  • To update legislation to include breaks at work for mothers to breastfeed/express milk
  • To ensure easy and timely access to skilled breastfeeding support for all mothers

Please contact your candidates, retweet our messages and share our Facebook posts to help get the change needed to support mums, babies and society

Sample letter to candidates below

To make it easy for you to contact your local candidates, you can copy and paste from the template email below, adding any personal testimony or details of breastfeeding support issues in your own constituency.

Find your local candidates

Not sure who your candidates are? Enter your postcode on the Electoral Commission website to obtain a list of names of candidates in your constituency.
http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/faq/elections/how-do-i-find-out-who-is-standing-for-election-and-get-information-on-candidates

Please note that since Parliament has been dissolved, your local MP’s parliamentary email address will probably no longer work; you will need to Google to find their election website and current contact details.

Do add some information more local to where you live

  • any cuts to your local breastfeeding support services
  • local successes (such as the local maternity unit and /or health-visiting service being awarded Baby Friendly accreditation
  • your own personal experience

See below for some relevant resources for local details

Do please let us know who you have contacted, and any responses, and sign up to our mailing list to keep in touch!

Contact us: wbti@ukbreastfeeding.org
Sign up here to the WBTi-UK mailing list.

See the WBTi 2016 UK Report for relevant information

Additional Resources

  1. For BFLG letter to political parties, see http://www.babymilkaction.org/election-2017-letter
  2. For names of constituency candidates via the Electoral Commission: https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/register-to-vote/find-your-local-authority
  3. Baby Friendly accreditation details: https://unicefbfi.secure.force.com/Events/Awards
  1. Breastfeeding rates:

For information about data collection see WBTI Indicator 10 “Monitoring” pp 56-59

Breastfeeding initiation (NHS England): https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/maternity-and-breastfeeding/ Click on ‘Breastfeeding 2016-17 Q3’.

PHE breastfeeding statistics (6-8 weeks): https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/breastfeeding-statistics

Scotland: see ‘Breastfeeding Statistics on: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Child-Health/Infant-feeding/

  1. Briefing Paper on Cuts to Breastfeeding Services, April 2016

(extensive background information and includes listing of services in England under threat in April 2016): https://ukbreastfeeding.org/2016/04/27/cuts-to-breastfeeding-support-in-england/

email-297633_1280

Sample letter for you to adapt and send to your local candidates:

Dear [candidate]

What is your party’s policy on infant feeding?

I am writing as a constituent of xxxxx before the election on 8 June to ask what action your party will be taking to address the gaps and recommendations in infant feeding policy and programmes, as identified in the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK (WBTi) report 2016.

How babies are fed profoundly affects infant and maternal health and wellbeing. The majority of UK mothers set out to breastfeed yet there is a huge drop off in the early weeks. 8 out of 10 mothers wanted to breastfeed for longer but didn’t get the help they needed.

Families are not getting the support they need and, even in a developed country like the UK, low breastfeeding rates are costing at least £40 million a year in increased health costs, with an overall estimated economic impact of 0.5% on UK Gross National Income (GNI).
For a summary of this research, see the Introduction in the  World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK Report 2016.

National leadership and policy change is needed to help mothers feed their babies as they wish. The World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative report on the UK sets out where the UK currently falls short.

I would like to ask you the following question:

How will your party address the gaps and recommendations set out in the WBTi Report to ensure families get the support they need?

The top asks from the WBTi report for the next government are as follows:

  • To establish leadership in England and Wales with a dedicated coordinator and high level committee to develop national strategies that include improved data collection.
  • To ensure all relevant health bodies fully implement the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative.
  • To fully implement and enforce the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent resolutions.
  • To update legislation to include breaks at work for mothers to breastfeed/express milk
  • To ensure easy and timely access to skilled breastfeeding support for all mothers

The report and score cards summarising what needs to be done can be found on the WBTi website.

https://ukbreastfeeding.org/wbtiuk2016/

I look forward to hearing how your party would take action on this issue

Yours sincerely,

Name

Address

Phone number

(these details are required when you contact your MP and local candidates otherwise you will not receive a reply)

 

January 2017

wbtiuk16webThe majority of mothers in the UK say they wanted to breastfeed for longer than they did. You can contact your elected representatives to ask them to help every mother in the UK to breastfeed as long as SHE wishes.

We know the policies that are needed. They are set out in the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, adopted through the UN with the support of the UK.

The World Breastfeeding Trends initiative (WBTi) measures government progress in introducing these policies. WBTi-UK produced an in-depth report last year and also report cards for the UK and each of the four countries that make it up. These show where progress has been made and where it is still needed.

Will you help convince your elected representatives to take action in Parliament, the devolved assemblies and elsewhere?

Click here to download the UK report card.

You can also download the report card specific to your country:

You can then do any or all of the following:

1. Book an appointment to see your Member of Parliament (MP) so you can deliver the report card and explain why you would like him or her to act (see key points below). You can find the contact details for the constituency office by entering your postcode here:
http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

2. Send a message to your MP using the writetothem website (again, you can enter your postcode).

3. Donate to WBTi-UK via the Baby Milk Action online shop so the core group can more print report cards and full copies of the report and continue its work.

4. If you are in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales you can also contact your representative in the devolved authority (click on the links for contact details).

5. Sign up to the WBTi-UK mailing list.

Key points for your messages

(We are not providing a draft statement for you to copy as MPs and other politicians take more notice when people use their own words). Here is an example

Background (you can add your own experiences of obstacles to breastfeeding):

1. Most mothers in the UK say they wanted to breastfeed for longer (Of the mothers who had stopped breastfeeding by 8 to 10 months, over three in five (63%) said that they would have liked to have breastfed for longer – last National Infant Feeding Survey (2010)).

2. The Lancet Breastfeeding Series highlighted in 2016 that the UK has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the world at 12 months of age. Exclusive breastfeeding (with no other liquids or foods) is recommended for the first 6 months, with continued breastfeeding beyond this with complementary foods).

3. Exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months of age is just 1% in the UK. The report card gives the average exclusive breastfeeding rate for babies between 0 and 5 months, which is 17%.

4. Enabling mothers to breastfeed as long as they wish does not FORCE them to breastfeed. It is a mother’s decision how she feeds her child.

Action required (see the recommendations on the report cards and possible questions below):

Explain that the WBTi report and report cards shows the key areas where action is needed. Take a printed copy with you if you are meeting your MP. If you are contacting your MP online, include the link: https://ukbreastfeeding.org/wbtiuk2016/

Any indicator that does not score 10/10 on the report card means more needs to be done (the scores are not like a test result where a lower score is good enough for a pass).

You do not have to comment on all of the areas – pick those of particular interest to you. You might like to raise local issues in the constituency your representative could act on, such as cuts to support services. The specific recommendations to increase the score to 10 is given on the report card.

wbtiukreportcarduk16Indicator 1: National policy, programme and coordination
Indicator 2: Baby Friendly Initiative
Indicator 3: International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes
Indicator 4: Maternity protection
Indicator 5: Health-professional training
Indicator 6: Community-based support
Indicator 7: Information support
Indicator 8: Infant feeding and HIV
Indicator 9: Infant and young child feeding during emergencies
Indicator 10: Monitoring and evaluation

Please let WBTi-UK know when you have contacted your MP and if you receive a response.

Possible Questions to ask your MP.

1. Will you ensure that each country in the UK has an infant feeding strategy and good practice is shared at a high level?

2. Will all UK governments require and fund NHS trusts and boards to achieve and maintain Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation in hospitals and communities?

3. Will the UK Government set guidance for NHS commissioners to ensure the physical and emotional health of the next generation?

4. Will the UK Government ensure that health visiting is maintained as a universal service in England, complemented by peer support schemes throughout the country?

5. Breastfeeding is the only evidenced-based intervention that reduces diabetes and overweight in children, will the Government ensure that it is included in the next Childhood Obesity Strategy?

6. Company promotion of formula misleads mothers who use it and undermines breastfeeding. Will the government protect ALL mothers and babies by bringing marketing laws into line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly?

7. Will the Government update workplace legislation to include breaks for mothers who wish to breastfeed or express their milk, with accompanying facilities?

8. Breastfeeding supports a child achieving their potential IQ level, so improving his/her life chances and job opportunities, reducing social inequalities. Will you invest in the next generation?