The most recent meeting of the APPG on Infant Feeding and Inequalities took place on September 6th, 2016. Unicef Baby Friendly presented their Call To Action at this meeting.
Unfortunately, LLLGB was unable to attend this time. However, Anna Burbidge, PR & Media representative for LLLGB, attended the previous meeting at the House of Commons on July 5th, 2016 and sums up some of the important issues raised at that meeting below:
Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, chaired the meeting which was attended by representatives of breastfeeding charities and breastfeeding support organisations, as well as several MPs.
Alison reported back on several of the issues raised at the May meeting.1 She had written to Ben Gummer, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Care Quality, and his reply had confirmed that the focus of the Government’s infant feeding policy is to improve health outcomes for women and their babies, while recognising that infant feeding choices are complex and based on individual and family circumstances. Alison had also written to Mr Gummer about the National Infant Feeding Survey asking the Government to reconsider this decision.
Aileen Campbell, MSP, Minister for Public Health and Sport, had responded to correspondence from Alison and confirmed that “Baby Boxes” were going to be issued to all families in Scotland. She said that all concerned were fully aware of the need to continue to protect breastfeeding and “would work hard to avoid any situation where we were actively promoting formula milk or companies”.
There were comments on Commissioning Guidance and National Breastfeeding Week, with a suggestion that it might be combined with World Breastfeeding Week in the future.
Inequalities – presentation by Sally Etheridge
Former La Leche League Leader, Sally Etheridge, gave a powerful and informative presentation. Sally established “Leicester Mamas” in 2008 and pointed out the anomaly that areas which had good initiation and breastfeeding rates, due to local support, found it hard to get funding.
Sally talked about the need for breastfeeding to be a part of reports on poverty and equality and she mentioned that its contribution to family life and society as a whole is not valued. She talked about breastfeeding support in areas of diverse ethnicity and different cultural expectations. Many families now rely on food banks and expect them to provide formula. If this is not available, its purchase often takes priority in the family budget. However, food banks are not regulated and sometimes receive donations of specialist formulas which are not suitable for all babies.
A lively discussion pertaining to infant feeding and inequalities followed the presentation, covering guidelines for the sale of formula, lack of support for breastfeeding asylum seekers and prisoners, the need for accurate information on the differences between formula and breastmilk, and the provision of donated breastmilk for premature babies.
Sally will be giving a presentation at our LLLGB Conference in October 2