National Breastfeeding Celebration Week will run from 18–27 June 2016.

This extended week is an opportunity for mothers, breastfeeding supporters and health professionals to come together and share what works well to support breastfeeding in local communities. The week incorporates two weekends and concludes on Monday 27 June.  At a national level the aim is to raise awareness of the health and wellbeing benefits of breastfeeding for mothers, their infants and the long term public health for everyone.

This year National Breastfeeding Celebration Week is concentrating on how ‘everyone in local communities can support mothers to breastfeed, whenever and wherever they are’.

The week provides a fantastic opportunity to show case all the good work that is going on around England, to share ideas, inspire others and promote the support available to women and their families.

When national elections are taking place governments are not permitted to carry out their normal duties. The European Elections will be taking place on 23rd June, in the middle of NBCW, therefore, Public Health England (PHE) cannot facilitate NBCW as planned. To save changing the date at this stage, Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative will be ‘hosting’ NBCW until 23rd June and will post a ‘blog’ Monday to Thursday on the website.

On Friday 24th June and Monday 27th June, PHE will post a Blog on their website and summarise the weeks activity on social media. PHE is also planning to launch a new document on Commissioning Infant Feeding Services in local authorities.

Local communities are invited to share their own local events with others via social media, for example; you might want to coordinate local events to share what you are doing; your priorities, your strategy and your activities, perhaps to coincide with other local celebrations such as the achievement of a stage of the Baby Friendly Initiative.

NHS England, Public Health England, The National Infant Feeding Network, The Royal College of Midwives, Institute of Health Visiting and CPHVA will be supporting local and regional celebration events by sharing of local resources on websites and through social media:

To showcase your ‘celebration’ please tweet a photo, along with a caption to #celebratebreastfeeding16 between 18 and 27 June.  This can then be ‘retweeted’ and will be used in a ‘twitter storify’ at the end of the week.

We look forward to hearing all about what you are doing via social media.

An open letter on the crisis in breastfeeding in the UK has been issued today, signed by midwives, health visitors, paediatricians, lactation consultants, breastfeeding counsellors, peer supporters, university researchers and others who work for professional organisations and charities that support families – including the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV).

The letter follows the recent series in The Lancet on breastfeeding – the most comprehensive review of all the evidence on breastfeeding to date.

The open letter states: “The breastfeeding crisis in the UK is in fact a crisis of lack of support for those mothers who choose to breastfeed.” It highlights the recent cuts to breastfeeding support services and the infant feeding specialist posts, which are driven by cuts to public health, which amount to £200 million in total in England.

Cheryll Adams, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“The uptake of breastfeeding is a major public health issue and the UK must address its very disappointing figures, laid bare by the Lancet, as a first step in also addressing many other health issues improved by breastfeeding, including the challenging year on year increase in childhood obesity which breastfeeding can protect against. A reduction in childhood obesity is a priority for the government so breastfeeding must now also be given priority status with mothers given access to the professional and voluntary support they need to breastfeed for as long as they wish.”

The open letter will be sent to all four governments of the UK and in particular to: Jane Ellison (Minister for Public Health), Ben Gummer (Minister for Care Quality), Duncan Selbie (Chief Executive, Public Health England) and Simon Stevens (Chief Executive of NHS England).