To coincide with World Breastfeeding Week this year, health professionals from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust are raising awareness of a unique partnership consisting of local NHS organisations, healthcare and voluntary bodies, and councils to encourage more breastfeeding in Lancashire.
World Breastfeeding Week is an annual global event involving 120 countries and held from 1 to 7 August to raise awareness about the value of breastfeeding. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Working Together for the Common Good.” It is with this aim that the Lancashire Infant Feeding Partnership (LIFP) is hoping to increase awareness of the partnership which facilitates a coordinated approach to the delivery and development of high standards of breastfeeding services and consists of infant feeding leads, midwives, health visitors, lactation consultants and breastfeeding peer supporters from across Lancashire.
Katie Wharton, Infant Feeding Coordinator at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The UK has some of the lowest breast feeding rates in the world and although more mothers are starting to breastfeed their babies, by four to six weeks many have given up. The picture in Lancashire is no different. Across the county, around 70 percent of babies receive breast milk as their first feed, but by four to six weeks as little as 40 percent of mums are still breastfeeding, and 8 out of 10 of these mums have stopped earlier than they wanted to.
“There are many barriers to breastfeeding and what is required is a coordinated approach to ensure that an increasing number of babies are breastfed and that mothers receive support to continue to breastfeed their babies for as long as they want to. Underpinning all of this should be an evidence base that promotes, supports and protects the long term health and wellbeing of every baby in Lancashire. Breastfeeding is everyone’s responsibility and it should be regarded as the normal, natural way for all babies to be fed.”
Sue Henry, Infant Feeding Coordinator at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, said: “Breastfeeding is a highly emotive subject because so many families have not breastfed, or have experienced sadness around breastfeeding personally not working out for them. No parent should have to feel they have not done the best for their child. It is really important now that we consider what everyone in our communities can do to support more mothers to breastfeed for longer; we all have a part to play. I would like to encourage everyone to get involved.”
The LIFP intends to drive this agenda forward for every baby born in Lancashire. The partnership consists of Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council, National Childbirth Trust, The Breastfeeding Network, and Families and Babies Peer Support group.
The Department of Health recommends that babies are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their life with continuation of breastfeeding as part of the infant’s diet throughout the first one to two years and beyond.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1-7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other organisations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
The LIFP can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.