The 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:
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).
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.
Indicator 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?