Our Call to Action campaign urges UK governments to take four key steps to enable mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish and to protect all babies from commercial interests. The following outlines Step 1: Developing a National Infant Feeding Strategy Board, tasked with creating a strategy and plan to deliver the goal of ensuring more babies are breastfed.
The UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. Only 34% of women maintain breastfeeding to six months as compared to 49% in the US and 71% in Norway. UNICEF UK has launched a Call to Action for all UK Governments to provide leadership on improving breastfeeding rates by creating a National Infant Feeding Strategy Board.
Role of the Board
The aim of the board is to provide leadership to remove all barriers – practical, societal and commercial – that prevent women from breastfeeding.
Terms of Reference
The Board’s terms of reference are to drive improvements in the rates of breastfeeding by:
- Producing and implementing a 5 year strategy to improve breastfeeding rates, with annual evaluation to ensure progress Monitoring breastfeeding prevalence and planning appropriate action based on the results
- Recognising the inter-dependency between infant feeding and numerous other policy areas, which together have a profound impact on children’s life chances. Ensuring that actions to improve infant feeding are included in all of these relevant policy areas, including obesity, diabetes and cancer reduction, emotional attachment and subsequent school readiness, improved maternal and child mental health and environmental sustainability
- Modelling a new way of talking about breastfeeding that clarifies the evidence and acknowledges the fact that improving breastfeeding rates is not the responsibility of individual mothers; rather, this is a public health imperative for which government, policy makers, communities and families all share responsibility
- Holding an annual meeting of all four devolved NIFSBs to share progress.
To be effective, the Board should include members of all relevant departments and bodies that make policy related to, or impacted by, infant feeding. We recommend that the Board has ‘core members’ and ‘non-core members’ who are invited when relevant, as well as a reference group.
Appointment of a chair with sufficient, knowledge, skills, power and influence to take the agenda forward, such as the Chief Medical Officer or the Chief Nurse.
Core Members England*
- Public Health England, NHS England & Health Education England
- Representatives from Department of Health and Department for Education
- Children’s Commissioner
- *adapt for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as apporpriate.
Non-Core Members England
Civil servants from: Department of Work & Pensions, Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, Department of Culture, Media & Sport, Department of Energy & Climate Change, Cabinet Office.
- Chair of National Infant Feeding Network
- UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative
- Representation from academic and voluntary sector organisations
- Breastfeeding policy leads from Governments of the devolved nations.
Women are not getting the support they need to breastfeed. Success in breastfeeding is the collective responsibility of society, not the sole responsibility of a woman.