History of an infographic… the ? triangle.

Kathryn Kelly – 11th February 2020

NCT Tutors and Practitioners often refer to commonly used ideas, sometimes depicted as graphics.  One of these is the SIP triangle, also known as the 3F’s triangle, or the 3I’s, or… oh dear, we need to unpick this.

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The ? Triangle. K. Kelly, 2020.

After a recent study day on ‘Supporting parents to make informed decisions’, current NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor (BFC) Paula Martin shared a document with me that shows the triangle as having been originated by Diz Meredith, an NCT BFC and Postnatal Leader in the late 1990’s.  She called it the SIP triangle, and it depicted the Social world of the mother, the Information, and the Personal meaning for the mother.  Patricia Wise later shared the document she created with the NCT peer support steering group (Wise, 2012), which filled in the detail that ‘Information’ in this context was the biomedical facts around how breastfeeding works.

Paula’s document also refers to BFC Una Reel’s 2015 development of the triangle to ‘People, Practicalities, and Personal’. I’m still trying to track down Una, who may be from Northern Ireland or Eire.

Meanwhile, NCT Tutors currently refer students to BFC Tutor Dr Mary Smale’s version: ‘Folk, Facts, and Feelings’, as developed for training breastfeeding peer supporters (Smale, 2004).  Mary tells me she had worked with Diz Meredith on the original, which was developed as a tool to help teach the new specialism of Postnatal Leaders (PNLs) to avoid the trap of giving advice to parents, and to strengthen their listening skills. 

BF Tutor Elizabeth Mayo tells me that Mary also toyed with 3P’s – personal, people, and political – while training the first lot of peer support trainers, and Mary concurs that they did include political as a central circle within the triangle. 

Recently departed NCT Postnatal Leader Liane Grimes originated her own version of the triangle.  She tells me of working on her kitchen floor and coming up with ‘Research, Advice, and What works for you?’, which she was using in Early Days courses in 2008 and shared at an NCT Conference workshop in 2010.

PNL Fiona Roberston adapted Liane’s version to the 3I’s: Influence, Information, Instinct & Individual Circumstances,and published it in Perspective (Robertson, 2012).

What can we learn from this?

Well, that NCT practitioners are creative, thoughtful, and innovative, but not always so good at either claiming ownership or honouring those who have gone before us.  And fundamentally, that publication is the only way of claiming your idea and having it acknowledged by others.  I feel it also shows how NCT needs a robust academic department ensuring that we do acknowledge, honour, and disseminate the work of our women thinkers and innovators.


Robertson, F. (2012) ‘Sharing evidence-based information in postnatal groups’, Perspective, December, pp8-9.

Smale, M. (2004) Training Breastfeeding Peer Supporters: An Enabling Approach. Sheffield: Women’s Informed Childbearing and Health (WICH) Research Group, University of Sheffield

Wise, P (2012) Health professionals and breastfeeding peer support, London: NCT

Kathryn Kelly is an NCT tutor/Univerity of Worcester associate lecturer with an interest in critical thinking and decision making.