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A Public Health Nursing Infant Feeding Service during COVID-19 – World Breastfeeding Week 2020

6th August 2020

This week is World Breastfeeding Week 2020, running from 1-7 August. The week aims to raise awareness of the links between good nutrition, food security, poverty reduction and breastfeeding, and galvanise action to increase breastfeeding rates.

2020 has brought new challenges as infant feeding support services have needed to quickly adapt to the restrictions of COVID-19 lockdown and physical distancing. However,  these conditions have also provided the opportunity for services to innovate and work together to ensure that women and babies receive the support that they need to successfully breastfeed.

We are delighted to be able to showcase the innovative work of the health visiting infant feeding service in Devon led by Gail Barker, Infant Feeding Coordinator Devon Public Health Nursing. This peer-reviewed case study has been selected for inclusion as part of our “Making History: Health Visiting during COVID-19” collection of case studies due to be published later this month.


Gail’s case study presents 12 learning points that contain a wealth of transferable tips gathered by the health visiting service in Devon during the first 12 weeks of the implementation of their adapted support service. Their experiences will resonate with others facing similar challenges which Gail outlines, “Staff were scared, families vulnerable. We needed to continue to keep everyone, families and staff alike safe, informed and supported with infant feeding challenges. We needed to be able to assess latch, build peer relationships, support growth and development, promote, protect and support breastfeeding, all whilst working in an integrated manner with our partners and parents”.

Commenting on the importance of supporting breastfeeding during these challenging times, Gail Barker said:

“Improving the UK’s breastfeeding rates is acknowledged as a key factor in improving the health of a population. Through being able to continue to support infant feeding via video teleconferencing at such a challenging time, we were able to support and promote the health of each baby and mother supported by our service. We know that infant feeding supports not only the building of close and loving relationships, which in turn promotes mental health of both mother and baby (Unicef, 2019), but it also has significant health impacts and reduces health inequalities (Victora et al 2016). At this time of COVID-19, it has never been more important to focus on children in view of these considerations for now and for the future, not just in the UK, but globally”.

Please see further resources and blogs to support breastfeeding during COVID-19:

Download iHV Parent Tips: Supporting breastfeeding during COVID-19

Read Dr Alison Spiro’s Voices blog published during England’s breastfeeding awareness week in June 2020 – Breastfeeding during the COVID-19 crisis

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