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Breastfeeding – Everyone has a part to play!

22nd September 2023

During #NationalBreastfeedingWeek 2023 (18-24 September), we are delighted to share this Voices blog from Pippa Atkinson, Lecturer in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing at the University of Central Lancashire. Pippa, together with Gail Barker, are iHV’s infant feeding expert advisers.

Pippa Atkinson, Lecturer in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing at the University of Central Lancashire


Breastfeeding is the single most effective preventive intervention (WHO, 2023) for ensuring the best health outcomes for children and families. From my doctoral research and practice as a health visitor and lactation consultant, I have seen first-hand how the current cost-of-living crisis has highlighted the importance of food security in the UK. We need to act now to protect the rights and needs of children and families. It is important that we advocate and work together to redress the power imbalances and deceptions seen in marketing.  Doing this could enable interventions to achieve the best outcomes and be fit for every child; factors that are essential to support improved breastfeeding rates in the UK.

We know there are barriers for women and their families in accessing information and support in the community and when returning to work. I’m sure that many reading this Voices Blog will have identified inequities in service provision, gaps in care, and lack of service integration in the areas in which they work. It is important that women and families can access information and infant feeding support at all stages of their infant feeding journey. Information should be free from the influences of infant formula marketing, adhere to the WHO (1981) International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, and be tailored to individual needs and circumstances. We all have a role in ensuring women have meaningful conversations during pregnancy and when returning to work, provide opportunities to establish support networks, break down cultural barriers, and reduce misinformation.

As a specialist community public health nurse (SCPHN) lecturer, I believe the new Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) standards of proficiency for SCPHNs (NMC, 2022) provide educators with a real opportunity to embed a child right’s approach within education for health visiting students and the public services of the future. However, whether you work in education or practice, we all have a role now to ensure that everybody understands the importance of breastfeeding and ensuring the best health outcomes for children, families, and communities.

If you have any thoughts about how either Gail or I (expert infant feeding advisers at the iHV) can support, you as health visitors to support breastfeeding please let us know. Please contact Pippa and Gail via [email protected] and mark your put the subject for the attention of Pippa and Gail.

Pippa Atkinson, Lecturer in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing at the University of Central Lancashire

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