When Hilary English first qualified as a voluntary breastfeeding counsellor in 1983, there were virtually no illustrations of breastfeeding in the UK, other than those supplied by the formula milk manufacturers in their brochures, which were unlikely to help new mothers attach their babies successfully, so she began taking photographs to illustrate as many aspects of breastfeeding as she could find, especially those which could be used with antenatal breastfeeding sessions. Further to these pictures becoming available she was asked to advise on several photoshoots, and also to join the working group reviewing the latest edition of the Royal College of Midwives’ textbook ‘Successful Breastfeeding’*. This resulted in her developing the positioning concept and the illustrations for what became known as the ‘angle of dangle’, first published in ‘Successful Breastfeeding’ 1992, and later in other midwifery textbooks, such as Myles Textbook for Midwives. These graphics were later used with permission and credits in the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative training courses in the UK, and in various parenting apps. Further photographs and graphics have also been used to illustrate various other UK breastfeeding books. Before the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative discouraged the donation of formula samples every mother in Great Britain was given a ‘Bounty Bag’ with various samples calculated to encourage formula feeding. With the promotion of the WHO International Code this was replaced by a ‘Welcome Pack’. Hilary was asked to author and illustrate a booklet on breastfeeding ‘Welcome to your Breastfed Baby’ and this was distributed through the National Health Service to every mother who gave birth in the UK for several years.
In 1986 she started to train breastfeeding counsellors and health professionals, both in workshops and as a lecturer. Over the last twenty years she has been involved in helping to organise the annual Conference for Lactation Consultants of Great Britain, bringing top class education and international speakers to breastfeeding workers and IBCLCs to in-person conferences in the UK, and during the pandemic, producing virtual events. In 2023 an in-person event was offered, but unsure whether delegates were ready to return in-person it was decided to pursue the possibility of live streaming and making recordings available for three to four months as had been done with the virtual events. This hybrid approach has enabled the usual net-working opportunities together with the presence of the international speakers at the in-person event. It has made it available to those who are not ready to move away from their screens, and also to those who might have difficulty affording or accessing such an event, not least over sixty IBCLCs and lactation colleagues working in the Ukraine and Poland and with IYCFE personnel who have accepted the offer of the event at no cost, thus helping to fulfil the charitable aims of providing education in line with LCGB’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policies.
Hilary sits on the LCGB Board of Trustees and has served as Deputy Chair for seven years.
* Successful Breastfeeding, 3rd edition, Royal College of Midwives , 2002, pub Churchill Liingstone