The UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. This damages our population health, our economy and most importantly can leave women devastated; up to 90% of mothers who stop breastfeeding in the first six weeks are not ready to do so. Although for some women physiological issues will have prevented them from breastfeeding, for most a lack of support leads to increased complications and a need to stop before they are ready.
Many strategies to support breastfeeding focus on providing practical support for women at an individual level. Whilst this is important, Amy’s research has explored wider psycho-social-cultural, influences damage breastfeeding, particularly poor societal level understanding of how breastfeeding works and normal baby behaviour. Her work highlighted that rather than focussing on individual women, change was needed at the societal level to create an environment that understood and supported breastfeeding.
To tackle this, Amy set up the ‘breastfeeding uncovered campaign’ turning her research findings into formats that were accessible to parents, health professionals and policy makers. She has used social and news media, blogging, books, animations, podcasts and presentations so that her research would reach the people who really mattered.
Recognised by the ESRC as having ‘outstanding impact’ Amy’s work has reached over 25 million people via social and news media around the world. She continues to reach over 1 million per month across her social media channels. Her work is used in public health campaigns and training by health boards, breastfeeding organisations and the World Health Organisation. Amy has been invited to present her research over 200 times to governments, committees and infant feeding organisations in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada and the USA.
Amy’s research now underpins policy and has led to the development of new breastfeeding strategies around the world. Her work is recognised by Public Health England as having ‘supported more parents to breastfeed and to breastfeed for longer’, something that is echoed by breastfeeding charities, health professionals working with parents and most importantly parents themselves. As one parent noted ‘This book has saved me from giving up breastfeeding my 3-week-old’ which crystalises the ethos of the campaign: to create a better future for new families.