Parenting charity, The National Childbirth Trust, has revealed plans to drop its “evangelical” approach to breastfeeding. After describing themselves as being too white middle-class, the charity has announced it wants to be more diverse.
Analysis of those signing up to paid-for antenatal sessions with the charity revealed 95% were white. Practitioners and volunteers are now being trained to support families from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
Anne Fox, NCT head of corporate communications, said, “We want to have a more diverse reach. We have always worked on word of mouth, but now we want the person who says ‘You should go to NCT’ to be a pregnant 15-year-old living in Central Manchester”, reports the Telegraph.
Anne notes that the heavy promotion of breastfeeding is creating a so-called “Breastapo” and that they’re happy to put their hands up and say they no longer believe they’re taking the right approach.
Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive of NCT, continues, “NCT has been the charity which has changed the political climate so policy makers understand the health benefits of breastfeeding and that most women want to breastfeed. This has led to needed policy and law changes but has had a side effect of undermining the support services we provide for everyone. Our breastfeeding counsellors can help when you are using formula as well as when you are breastfeeding.
“Breasts don’t come with instructions on the side so it takes a lot of training for our practitioners to have the necessary expertise to help women with breastfeeding. Our counsellors are experts in using formula and can support women with questions there too. It is important that we do because manufacturers have a vested interest in selling formula and may not always provide evidence based information to mother.”
The charity plans to protect the rights of those who choose to breastfeed, rather than promote it. Under a new “20/20” strategy it hopes to reach 20 million UK parents by 2020.
The NCT’s change of approach may be seen as a blow to breastfeeding campaigners. It follows Government cuts, which saw funding for Breastfeeding Awareness Week pulled, although the Government continues to support exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Anne has said NCT’s planned changes moves away from this “central Government ‘boom, boom’ message to a local level, which means different strokes for different folks.”