Don’t worry if you missed last week’s iHV Insights webinar on “Inspiring excellence in breastfeeding support – the health visitor role, as the recording and resources are now available for our members.


Our iHV Insights webinars are available to iHV Members only, just one of the many perks of being part of the iHV.

On 28 October, we were joined by a fabulous panel of experts who were able to provide an update on the evidence and lots of helpful tips on supporting families with breastfeeding.

Our expert panel of speakers:

  • Alison Spiro – Independent breastfeeding advisor Honorary Lecturer, Brunel University – Building parental self-efficacy in breastfeeding
  • Gail Barker – Health Visitor Professional Lead for Devon Public Health Nursing – Infant Feeding. A wider public health approach needed
  • Phil – A dad’s perspective of breastfeeding (interview with Gail Barker)

As with all our iHV Insights webinars, resources are available for iHV members to access as a free member benefit after the event.

So, if you are already a member head over to our iHV Insights page now and check out our latest iHV Insights Or join us today and gain access to future iHV Insights webinars, as well as the recordings of past sessions.

We hope this library of iHV Insights will provide a valuable “bite-sized” CPD resource for all members to use as part of your ongoing learning and revalidation.

iHV Insights* – Dates for your 2022 Diary

  • 20 January 2022 15:30 – 16:30
  • 17 February 2022  15:30 – 16:30
  • 24 March 2022 15:30 – 16:30

* Our iHV Insights are regularly scheduled. Whilst we’d like to publish topics in advance, we will confirm those closer to the time to ensure that they are the topics that are current. When booking your member place via Eventbrite – don’t forget you’ll need your membership number as the access code.

Our 12th iHV Insights webinar takes place on Thursday 28 October 2021 from 3:30 to 4:30 pm.

This will cover the topic of: “Inspiring excellence in breastfeeding support, the health visitor role”.

We are pleased to announce that our expert panel of speakers includes:

  • Alison Spiro, Independent Consultant
  • Gail Barker, Health Visitor Professional Lead for Devon Public Health Nursing
  • Father’s voice, pre-recorded talk.

The webinar will also be recorded and will be available to iHV members on our website after the event.

Please join us.

How to book for iHV members

Go to our EventBrite booking page and please use your iHV membership number as your access code. If you have any problems or enquiries please email [email protected] and we will be happy to help.

Once you have submitted your details, you will be able to select your ticket and proceed to checkout – please note that this webinar is free to iHV members.

Previous iHV Insights

The great news is that recordings of all the iHV Insights webinars are available for iHV members to access as a free member benefit after the event.

Click here to catch up on our fabulous iHV Insights sessions – don’t forget to log in to access.

About iHV Insights

iHV Insights are webinars run just for our members.

These live online sessions are of interest to frontline health visitors and student health visitors, as well as service leads, commissioners and wider members of the health visiting team, both in the UK and with lots of transferable learning for our international members too.

If you are not an iHV member, join us today to access these resources and many other member benefits.


The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are hosting a webinar tomorrow (Wednesday 14 April)  for maternity staff on COVID vaccines – however, all are welcome to attend by registering via the link below.

This RCOG and RCM event is a fantastic opportunity to hear and ask questions about the latest advice, research and guidance on how to counsel pregnant women offered a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine hesitancy among healthcare professionals and in those with concerns about fertility or breastfeeding will also be covered.

This webinar is essential viewing anyone working in primary care and maternity services, as COVID-19 vaccines are offered to more pregnant women at higher risk of serious illness, including those with gestational diabetes.  

Wednesday 14 April 2021 19:30  21:00

Register here for – COVID vaccines, pregnancy, fertility and breastfeeding webinar

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

With breastfeeding support under strain, service providers propose plan to tackle inequalities

This World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August 2020), the Institute of Health Visiting joins the voice of the Breastfeeding Network who are calling on the UK government to address the fragility of breastfeeding support services.

Our organisations have seen first-hand how the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the fragility of infant feeding support available for women, parents and families.

Over the past few months, the need to support babies and families has escalated and support services have been stretched beyond anything in our experience.

Existing variations in provision for infant feeding support have increased as services have been cut, health visiting teams redeployed and provision moved online, leading to unknown outcomes on infant nutritional health, worsening maternal mental health and widening health inequalities.

Tremendous efforts from the NHS and Third Sector organisations, including many volunteers on the National Breastfeeding Helpline and other charity-run helplines, along with swift adaptation to offer online support, have provided many families with support but this is not sustainable without a longer term strategy.

Meanwhile, the need to protect infant and young child feeding in pandemic emergencies has not previously been considered and has been entirely missing from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’ reports

Investing in the health of new families, including supporting and protecting breastfeeding and supporting safe and responsive formula or mixed feeding, enables children not just to survive, but to thrive.

Rebuilding infant feeding support for communities after Covid-19 and giving important attention to the needs of mothers and children from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds will help tackle inequalities.

Infant feeding is a critical component of first 1001 Days and Early Years Health

We welcome the appointment of Andrea Leadsom MP as the Government’s Early Years Health Adviser and the announcement of a review at a time when infant feeding support services for women, parents and families have been stretched to an unprecedented degree.

Protecting breastfeeding and ensuring safe and responsive formula and mixed feeding during those first 1001 days would make a significant contribution to reducing inequalities in health. As a result, it also upholds the work of the NHS and helps build a healthier population.

While COVID-19 has undoubtedly placed a strain on support systems, it has also highlighted a huge omission in UK policy on planning for the care and feeding of infants and young children in case of emergencies, leaving our youngest members of society vulnerable.

While the benefits of breastfeeding are well-evidenced, merely stating these benefits does not ensure breastfeeding is protected or supported. At a time of global health crisis, and increasing recognition of the impact of human behaviour on the health of our planet, support for breastfeeding is also an environmental imperative.

10-point Infant Feeding Action Plan to address Inequalities

We call on the UK government to adopt the following 10-point Infant Feeding Action Plan below which has a particular focus on working to reduce inequalities:

1. For the new Government Early Years Advisor to appoint a permanent, multi-sectoral maternal, infant and young child nutrition strategy group to implement a national strategy to support good nutrition across the first 1001 days.

2. To commission and sustainably fund universal, accessible, confidential breastfeeding support delivered by specialist/lead midwives, health visitors and suitably qualified breastfeeding specialists, recognising the role of charitable organisations and community groups and their strong links with communities.

3. Ensure there are children’s centres or family hubs, disproportionately located in areas of disadvantage, offering joined-up universal services from pregnancy onwards, that include breastfeeding peer support, guidance on the introduction of solids and eating well in the early years.

4. To ensure that health visiting services are properly funded and the number of health visitors increased to ensure consistent timely nutritional support for all families to support good maternal and infant mental and physical health.

5. To integrate planning to support infant and young child feeding in emergencies into legislation, the Civil Contingencies Act, and Local Resilience Forums across the country.

6. To recognise the importance of breastmilk for preterm and vulnerable babies and the need for equitable access to donor breastmilk for these babies through the establishment of a fully funded regional donor milk banking service.

7. To implement the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative across community, hospital and neonatal services, building on the recommendation for all maternity services to be accredited in the NHS Long Term Plan.

8. To make it a statutory right of working mothers to access a private space and paid breaks to breastfeed and/or express breastmilk and manage its safe storage.

9. To support the commitment to re-instate the quintennial Infant Feeding Survey which builds on data previously collected every five years since 1975, most recently in 2010.

10. To protect babies from harmful commercial interests by bringing, as a minimum, the full World Health Organisation International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes into UK law and enforcing this law.

For enquiries, please email [email protected]

During #BreastfeedingCelebrationWeek, the first European report on infant and young child feeding policies and practices was launched yesterday. It compares 18 countries and identifies the considerable improvements they need to make in supporting mothers who want to breastfeed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it is for countries to protect their citizens from illness. Babies who are breastfed have better health and resistance to infection, and most mothers want to breastfeed. Yet many European mothers stop or reduce breastfeeding in the early weeks and months, and bottle feeding is prevalent, due to inadequate support from health systems and society.

This new report, Are our babies off to a healthy start?, compares the  implementation of WHO’s Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding by 18 European countries. The comparisons show clearly that inadequate support and protection for breastfeeding mothers is a Europe-wide problem. The health of babies, mothers and whole populations  loses out as a result. However, countries do differ considerably. Turkey rates highest overall; the five countries with the lowest scores belong to the European Union.

The scope of the assessment is wide-ranging, with ten policy and programme indicators, including national leadership, hospital and community practices, marketing controls on breastmilk substitutes, health professional training, emergency preparedness and monitoring. There are also five feeding practices indicators, such as exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, a WHO recommendation.

The indicators with the poorest overall scores are national leadership and, shockingly, emergency preparedness, where the UK scored 0/10.

A new addition to the Parent Tips series to help parents during these times – “Supporting breastfeeding during COVID-19“.

Like other mammal babies, it is natural for a human baby to be breastfed, but many people in the UK have lost confidence and skills in breastfeeding. Breast milk contains anti-viral factors and antibodies which are likely to offer your baby some protection against COVID-19. There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through breastfeeding. If you have any concerns, you can discuss them with your midwife or health visitor (online or over the phone).

The new Supporting breastfeeding during COVID-19 Parent Tips includes:

  • How breastfeeding makes a difference
  • Can I breastfeed my baby if I have suspected or confirmed coronavirus?
  • Starting Breastfeeding
  • How to tell if your baby is getting enough milk
  • Common Challenges
  • Looking after yourself

These new Parent Tips, together with those published last week, can be found in our **Parenting Through Coronavirus (COVID-19)** webpage


Many parents are very concerned about how to feed their babies during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Here, we share the latest statement on best practice from Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative – who also suggest that all practitioners follow latest updates from the UK governments and the World Health Organization (WHO) as these could change as more information becomes available.

The Unicef statement (on the link below) includes:

  • Public Health England (PHE) guidance – If you are breastfeeding while infected
  • Accessing infant formula – information from First Steps Nutrition Trust


In addition, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has updated their guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and pregnancy (published today 18 March) to reflect the announcement on Monday evening (16 March) that pregnant women have been placed in a ‘vulnerable group’. Check the summary of updates on pages 3-5 to see all the changes.

As a result RCOG Information for pregnant women is updated:

iHV welcomes a statement from a group of breastfeeding organisations calling on the new government to invest in the health of women and children by supporting and protecting breastfeeding.

They call on all political parties to commit to the following actions, if elected:-

  • To appoint a permanent, multi-sectoral infant and young child feeding strategy group and develop, fund and implement a national strategy to improve infant and young child feeding practices.
  • To include actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding in all policy areas where breastfeeding has an impact.
  • To implement the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative across community and paediatric services, building on the recommendation for maternity services in the NHS Long Term Plan.
  • To protect babies from harmful commercial interests by bringing the full International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes into UK law and enforcing this law.
  • To commission, and sustainably fund, universal breastfeeding support programmes delivered by specialist/lead midwives and health visitors or suitably qualified breastfeeding specialists, such as IBCLC lactation consultants and breastfeeding counsellors, alongside trained peer supporters with accredited qualifications.
  • To maintain and expand universal, accessible, affordable and confidential breastfeeding support through the National Breastfeeding Helpline and sustaining the Drugs in Breastmilk Service.
  • To deliver universal health visiting services and the Healthy Child Programme by linking in with local specialist and support services.
  • To establish/re-establish universal Children’s Centres with a focus on areas of deprivation, offering breastfeeding peer support.
  • To make it a statutory right of working mothers and those in education to work flexibly as required and to access a private space and paid breaks to breastfeed and/or express breastmilk and manage its safe storage.
  • To commit to resourcing for charitable organisations who play a key role within the health agenda working at a national and local level to support families and communities with infant feeding.
  • To support the commitment to undertake an Infant Feeding Survey which builds on the data previously collected in the Infant Feeding Survey 2010 (now discontinued). To implement the recommendations of the Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly (BBF) study.

As part of National Breastfeeding Celebration Week 2019, we are publishing a series of blogs to #CelebrateBreastfeeding. Today’s blog is from Kathryn Stagg, Breastfeeding Counsellor/IBCLC, Association of Breastfeeding Mothers. Kathryn, together with Alison Spiro , Independent Specialist Health Visitor, presented a poster on breastfeeding more than one at our recent evidence-based practice conference in Manchester.

Breastfeeding more than one baby is very possible with good postnatal support and antenatal information, even if babies are born prematurely. Challenges include higher rates of prematurity, early delivery and medical intervention at birth, greater chance of early supplementation due to jaundice/hypoglycemia, and lack of confidence in adequate milk supply.

Antenatal preparation for breastfeeding is key. Supporting mothers to harvest their colostrum can give them confidence that their breasts are already producing colostrum and they will be able to give their babies this, if supplementation is necessary. Couples can have the chance to discuss normal baby behaviour, benefits of tandem feeding positions, recognising the signs of good positioning and attachment and good milk transfer. Health Visitors can signpost mothers to postnatal breastfeeding support.

For further information for parents and health professionals, our Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK website has articles and blogs to support multiple birth families with breastfeeding.

We also have a very active facebook group where mothers can access support 24/7 and it is fully moderated by trained breastfeeding supporters. Mums are supported to fulfil or exceed their feeding goals. Many find they can move from supplementation to exclusive breastfeeding. This is a closed Facebook group to support multiple birth mums in the UK with breastfeeding. This is a closed group to protect privacy.

We also have a public facebook page – Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK Public Page

And Twitter/Instagram @BfTwinsUk

Kathryn Stagg, IBCLC