Health services for pregnant women and new mums across North and North East Lincolnshire have been awarded the prestigious ‘baby friendly’ accreditation from UNICEF.
The services receiving stage three of the UK UNICEF baby friendly initiative are:
- Maternity and neonatal services at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLaG)
- The health visiting service in North Lincolnshire run by Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH)
- Health Visiting Service and Family Hubs run by North East Lincolnshire Council
- Children’s centres run by North Lincolnshire Council.
The health and well-being of all babies is at the heart of the baby friendly initiative. A strong mother-baby relationship is the foundation for a baby’s future health and well-being, and breastfeeding supports this loving bond, making a vital difference to health.
NLaG staff were commended for the ‘very high’ standards of care pregnant women and new mothers receive, for taking every opportunity to initiate a discussion around feeding and for the ‘effective support’ given to breast feeding mothers.
Jane Goodwin, infant feeding lead for Scunthorpe and Goole hospitals, said: “We’re delighted to have achieved the level three accreditation. It’s a reflection of the hard work our staff put in to continuously improve services for our local women. Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life.
Amanda Anderson, infant feeding lead for Grimsby hospital added: “We know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers – although mums might be more interested in hearing that it is easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle feeding. However a mother chooses to feed her baby, she can be sure that she will be supported to form a strong loving relationship with her newborn – through having maximum skin to skin contact and understanding how her baby communicates with her and needs her to respond.”
Christina Harrison, director of RDaSH who manages the health and wellbeing service for 0-19 year olds in North Lincolnshire, said: “This is a great accolade for all partners. It’s a great achievement. It means mums are receiving the best possible advice on breast feeding from all staff who work with them in the early days and months after their baby is born.”
The approach taken across North and North East Lincolnshire councils in implementing the standards required was commended by the assessors in their report. It said: ‘There is a robust and innovative approach to identifying challenges, action planning and audit with excellent leadership and a workforce who have a strong passion to ensure excellent care for pregnant women, new mothers and babies.’
Councillor Ros James, portfolio holder for children and young people in North East Lincolnshire, said: “This is a great result that reflects the hard work that the council’s infant feeding team, health visitors and family hubs put into making the services the best they can be. These services are offering vital front-line support to parents and families to ensure that babies get the best possible start in life.”
Cllr David Rose, cabinet member for children, families and learning at North Lincolnshire Council, said: “I am delighted with the outcome of the recent assessment. Supporting more women to breastfeed for longer would improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities across the life course. For any pregnant women and parents-to-be who want to know more about breastfeeding and its benefits, they should contact their local children’s centre or family hub, the Breastfeeding Peer Support Service based in hospitals or the Infant Feeding Lead Midwives in hospitals.”
Stages one and two of the baby friendly accreditation are about getting the right polices and guidelines in place, ensuring the workforce are skilled and knowledgeable about how to encourage and support breastfeeding women. Stage three is about the outcomes for pregnant women, new mothers and their babies, that is; parents have had informative conversations regarding infant feeding, that they are able to make an informed choice about the method of feeding and that they receive consistent support and advice on their breastfeeding journey.