In early 2016 The Lancet Breastfeeding Series reported the UK as having the lowest percentage of infants breastfed at 12 months of age in the world1. A subsequent Open Letter to the UK Government, signed by organisations including the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), illustrated the case for better breastfeeding support for women2. Recognising the significance of this and aiming to improve General Practitioners’ advocacy for healthy infant feeding, the GP Infant Feeding Network (UK), or GPIFN, was founded.
General Practitioners (GPs) and primary care staff can play a significant role in supporting breastfeeding mothers by providing accurate evidence-based advice and up to date management of breastfeeding problems. An increase in breastfeeding rates in the UK would benefit the health of mothers and babies, provide economic savings and lead to a reduction in GP workload3.
If women do not breastfeed, GPs can provide support for safe feeding of expressed breastmilk or give evidence-based information on the choice of artificial baby milk, its preparation and how it may be used as safely as possible.
Via online communication, meetings and project work, GPIFN facilitates primary care staff, lactation, maternity and early years specialists to collaborate, learn from each other and promote best practice in infant and young child feeding.
During World Breastfeeding Week August 2016 GPIFN co-signed the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative ‘Call to Action’ urging the UK and Devolved Governments to remove the barriers to breastfeeding and create a supportive, enabling environment for women who want to breastfeed.
GPIFN (UK) is:
- A network of trained individuals, including General Practitioners, who have volunteered their time to work on quality improvement in the field of Infant Feeding
GPIFN (UK) is not:
- A professional body or healthcare licensing body
- Affiliated with any political party or political movement
- Associated with the baby food industry or the infant feeding products industry
- Charging for the information it provides
- A charity
From its foundation in 2016 the time and costs of GPIFN activities have been voluntarily self-funded by the GPIFN Team members. In October 2019 First Steps Nutrition Trust kindly provided direct funding for professional updates to the GPIFN website. The website content was prepared by the authors with no payment from any source.
About the GPIFN Website
GPIFN, has developed this website as a clinical resource for General Practitioners (GPs) working in the UK. The website was developed as an independent, voluntary project by UK GPs with assistance and input from colleagues working in infant feeding, maternity and early years. We hope the website supports our GP colleagues in the provision of quality clinical care for families.
The resources linked and signposted within are a selection from the great many available, chosen by GP members of GPIFN due to their specific usefulness to practicing GPs in the UK. We acknowledge that there are many resources available to support infant feeding and welcome suggestions for the addition of materials which will be of specific interest to Primary Care professionals.
The GPIFN Team welcome constructive suggestions for additions or updates via our Contact page. The website will be updated periodically at which point additions or changes will be considered.
GPIFN Website Developers
Dr Louise Santhanam Louise is a GP working in London. Personal experience led her to seek out further professional education on the subject of infant feeding and after making links with The Breastfeeding Network she set up GPIFN (UK) as an online network in February 2016. She also has an interest in perinatal mental health and was co-developer of the RCGP Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit which launched in 2016. From February 2018 she has been working as NHS Bexley Clinical Commissioning Group’s GP clinical lead for maternity services in Bexley, south-east London and is also a GP Rep for the Pan-London Perinatal Mental Health Clinical Network, which is dedicated to enhancing perinatal mental health services in London. She was previously a volunteer committee member of the not-for-profit campaign ‘Better Breastfeeding’, which works better support, better understanding and a better environment for breastfeeding in the UK.
Dr Clare Macdonald Clare is a GP in Oadby. Leicestershire. She has a long standing interest in infant feeding and like many, this interest grew after her own personal experience. She joined the GPIFN in 2016 and strives to work to improve GP access to quality, reliable information on the subject through the website, and networking with infant feeding experts and other GPs in the Midlands region. Clare is currently a GP member of the NICE Guideline Committee for ‘Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth’.
The GPIFN Executive Team
January 2020: Dr Clare Atchison (GP), Dr Sarah Little (GP), Dr Marie-Therese Lovis (GP), Dr Clare Macdonald (GP), Dr Rosemary Marsh (GP Specialist Trainee), Dr Robyn Powell (Emergency Medicine Physician), Dr Jane Raja (GP Specialist Trainee), Dr Samantha Ross (GP) and Dr Louise Santhanam (GP, Founder of GPIFN).
With thanks to previous Team members: Dr Rachel Barnes (GP), Dr Jenny Boyd (GP), Dr Catriona Davidson (GP), Dr Anjali Gibbs (GP), Erica Harris (Breastfeeding Peer Supporter), Dr Sara Khan (GP) and Dr Madeleine du Mont (GP).
The GPIFN Executive Team would like to thank all the members and supporters of GPIFN (UK) and those who contributed to the development of this website.
With thanks for guidance, feedback and support on this project to: Claire Alcutt, Sue Ashmore, Shel Banks, Debbie Barnett, Sharon Breward, Amy Brown, Linda Brownlie, Phyll Buchanan, Helen Calvert, Sophie Camron, Helen Crawley, Ellen Dean, Amanda Dunbar, Francesca Entwistle, Zoe Faulkner, Shereen Fisher, Helen Gray, Smita Hanciles, Ruth Johnson, Wendy Jones, Laura Kearney, Rosie Knowles, Carrie Ladd, Felicity Lambert, Susan Last, Luisa Lyons, Annabelle Mackenzie, Rosie Marsh, Gill Martin, Clare Meynell, Maureen Minchin, Louise Moran, Pamela Morrison, Sarah Oakley, Ayala Ochert, Zoe Oliver, Carmen Pagor, Hemali Parekh, Emma Pickett, Emma Jane Sasaru, Judy Shakespeare, Natalie Shenker, Fiona Sylva, Julie Taylor, Victoria Thomas, Amanda Wagg, Rachel Wakelin, Alexis Wiltshire, Lisette Winwood, Laura Wood and Charlotte Young.
With thanks for inspiration and assistance to: The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, The Breastfeeding Network, La Leche League GB, The NCT, The National Breastfeeding Helpline, Lactation Consultants of Great Britain, The Association of Tongue-Tie Practitioners, The Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative, The National Infant Feeding Network, First Steps Nutrition Trust, The LIFIB, WBTi UK, UKDILAS, The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and the #MatExp Community.
Acknowledgement of the above individuals and organisations does not imply their official endorsement of this website or its content.
Thank you to all those who contributed to the website as authors, who are credited on the relevant pages.
Thank you for IT support to: Louis du Mont, Thomas Williams and Duncan Macdonald.
Thank you for our fantastic logo and graphics to: Andy Hood.
Thank you to all the mothers who contributed quotes and to the families whose photographs appear on the website (these photographs were donated with informed consent).
Acknowledgements are due to the producers of all the resources linked in this website, which have been included from the wide range of trusted and valuable resources, due to our opinion that they are of specific relevance to General Practitioners in the UK.
- Breastfeeding series: The Lancet, January 29th 2016
- Open Letter on the Current Crisis in Breastfeeding in the UK: February 9th 2016
- Unicef: Preventing Disease and saving resources: the potential contribution of increasing breastfeeding rates in the UK October 2012