World Breastfeeding Week 2017

"It takes a village..."

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This year’s World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August 2017) theme is “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together” and we’re celebrating all the different ways we can work together to support women to breastfeed. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to “mother our mothers” and support them to breastfeed for as long as they wish. Only with collective action from healthcare services, government, families, the media and wider society can we tackle the UK’s low breastfeeding rates.

Changing the conversation for all mothers

A key part of our Call to Action campaign is about having more open, honest and compassionate conversations about infant feeding. This is a highly emotive issue because so many families have not breastfed or have tried very hard to breastfeed and not succeeded; conversations all too often lead to guilt and blame, positioning mothers against mothers. We are calling for a shift in focus; the UK’s low breastfeeding rates are not the responsibility of individual mothers, but rather are a public health issue which needs a collective response. Find out more about how we can all change the conversation around feeding.

A breastfeeding friend

For breastfeeding to work, you need someone to turn to who believes it’s important and believes you can do it.” Sue Ashmore, Programme Director, The Baby Friendly Initiative

It’s vital that mothers have someone to support them with breastfeeding; be it a family member, a friend, another parent or a peer support group, it’s so valuable to have someone to turn to when things are difficult, and to celebrate with when feeding is going well. During National Breastfeeding Celebration Week many mothers shared stories of their breastfeeding friends, without whom they wouldn’t have managed. In light of these stories it’s worrying that many women in the UK are not receiving the peer support they need, and important that we call on UK governments to take action to better protect and promote breastfeeding.

Support from healthcare services

There is resounding evidence that professional breastfeeding support helps mothers to get breastfeeding off to a good start and continue for as long as they wish. A recent Cochrane review reinforced the message that sensitive, consistent, face-to-face support should offered from pregnancy right through to the early weeks and months of a child’s life. Find out more about the value of these services and what you can do to support them.

Policies that support breastfeeding

Despite overwhelming evidence that breastfeeding saves lives and significantly improves health, there are many government policies that don’t yet recognise this. Infant feeding has a profound impact on physical and emotional health lasting well into adulthood, and should be included in a diverse range policies from obesity to school readiness, as well as NHS resources and mental health. Our Call to Action campaign urges governments to protect breastfeeding in all relevant policy areas: find out more.

Together, these steps can create a village which really supports mothers and helps give babies the best possible start. This World Breastfeeding Week, share your ideas of how to support breastfeeding using #breastfeeding.

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Programme Director Sue Ashmore’s Huffington Post Blog: It takes a village to raise breastfeeding rates

UK attitudes to breastfeeding must change, say experts” The Guardian

Break down barriers to breastfeeding in the UK” – letter to the Guardian co-signed by Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative


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Call to Action on infant feeding in the UK

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Blog: Supporting breastfeeding: we know what works; let's make it happen

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The Lancet: Increasing breastfeeding worldwide could prevent over 800,000 child deaths every year

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