Breastfeeding may be the most natural way to give baby a good start in life, providing long term health benefits, but the theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August) centres on the shared responsibility society has to support mothers to breastfeed now and in the future.

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Strategic Breastfeeding Lead Jane Dickens explains: “In the past there would have been absolutely no need to protect breastfeeding, it was simply what everyone did – it costs nothing and is vital to helping a baby develop, grow and build a healthy immune system, as well as bond with mum. But in our twenty-first century society, eight out of 10 modern mums stop breastfeeding before they would like to, with a range of pressures influencing that decision.

“Those pressures range from having others around who are not well informed about breastfeeding and see bottle feeding as a like-for-like choice; being some distance from their own mum or other family members who can provide support if breastfeeding proves difficult; feeling self-conscious about breastfeeding when out and about; the need to rapidly return to work for financial or other reasons; or simply the perceived convenience of breast milk substitutes.”

To support local families, ensure they are aware of the health benefits of breastfeeding and counteract the switch to breast milk substitutes, Bradford district published its Breastfeeding Strategy in 2019 with organisations across the district working collaboratively to protect, promote, support and normalise breastfeeding.

Bradford District Care Foundation Trust Health Visiting service has been accredited with UNICEF Baby Friendly status, since 2015. Bradford Royal Infirmary’s neo-natal unit has also been accredited and the maternity unit there and at Airedale General Hospital are both committed to and working towards achieving full Baby Friendly status. The accreditation is evidence-based and means that a reliable standard of care is met to protect breastfeeding, as well as safe bottle feeding and building close and loving relationships between parent and baby.

This year both Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and Bradford Royal Infirmary have appointed Baby Friendly Guardians. This role is held by a senior member of staff who is an advocate and spokesperson for the Baby Friendly Initiative, dedicated to protecting promoting supporting and normalising breastfeeding.

They ensure that the Breastfeeding Strategy and Baby Friendly standards are maintained, overseeing the development and maintenance of high-quality services, whilst acknowledging and preventing the harmful impact of formula marketing. The guardians are also responsible for protecting and upholding policies in their own organisations, such as return to work policies for staff who are breastfeeding.

Bradford Royal Infirmary’s infant feeding lead Rea Halstead says: “Bradford has the youngest population in Europe and we want all babies to have the best start in life.  We’re here to help and signpost new and soon-to-be mums and families to the right support at the right time for them. We’re all working hard together to ensure we retain our Baby Friendly accreditation in 2022 too.”

Jane Dickens adds: “All our local breastfeeding support organisations want to remove barriers and enable women to meet their infant feeding goals feeling supported all the way. We’re also continuing to encourage businesses such as cafes, shops and other places visited by families to display a pink ribbon sticker to indicate they are ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ so that mums feel confident and able to breastfeed whilst out and about.”

To help a family member or friend who is breastfeeding you can direct them to useful, reliable NHS information online at the Trust’s Family Health services’ website ‘Better lives, healthy futures’, or Bradford Council.

If they need support with their breastfeeding, Bradford Breastfeeding Buddies offer practical advice from someone who’s been there and done that. Send a direct message on the Bradford Breastfeeding Buddies’ Facebook page, sign up here or text FEED to 66777 with your name, postcode and baby’s date of birth (or due date) to get a call back.

For professional help, you can contact the Infant Feeding Specialist midwife at Airedale General Hospital on 01535 292383 or the Infant Feeding team at Bradford Royal Infirmary on 01274 364583 or email: Health Visitors are available Monday to Friday on 01274 221223 with specialist support from the Community Infant Feeding team on hand.

Telephone and email support and advice on feeding issues for families in Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton is available from the Better Start Bradford Breastfeeding team in English Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, and German. Call Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm 01274 287968, Mon-Fri 5pm – 8pm and Sat 9am – 5pm on 07903 174429 or email:

Local businesses wishing to join the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme can get all the information they need and sign up at the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme website.