Improving UK breastfeeding rates
Improving the UK’s breastfeeding rates would have a profoundly positive impact on child health. For example, increasing the number of babies who are breastfed could cut the incidence of common childhood illnesses such as ear, chest and gut infections and save the NHS up to £50 million each year. Breastfeeding rates in comparable European countries, with similar population sizes and demographics, show that it is possible to increase rates with a supportive breastfeeding culture and the political will to do so.
A key aspect of improving breastfeeding rates is the provision of face-to-face, ongoing and predictable support to families across all public services, and social support in the local community. The Baby Friendly Initiative enables mothers to receive this help within healthcare services, delivering a holistic, child-rights based pathway for improving care. We provide the crucial impetus that busy health professionals need to raise standards, enabling them to prioritise what is best for each and every child above the pressures of tightening funds and staff numbers, and providing an achievable roadmap for improvement.
UNICEF, working in partnership with the WHO, is uniquely placed to deliver this life-saving work. We have the knowledge, credibility and infrastructure to work with an organisation the size of the NHS to put the standards in place to make a difference to children’s lives across the UK. For an outline of how Baby Friendly can impact long-term public health outcomes, see our Theory of change document on the About Baby Friendly page.