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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS

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Home > News > First step towards baby friendly accreditation

First step towards baby friendly accreditation

Posted on Friday 28th August 2015
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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is pleased to have achieved the first stage of their Unicef Baby Friendly accreditation with support from Cumbria County Council.

The Trust has been awarded a Certificate of Commitment – the first step towards gaining international recognition from the Unicef (United Nations Children's Fund) UK Baby Friendly initiative. 

Unicef Baby Friendly awards are considered the ‘gold standard’ of training and practice to promote breastfeeding for maternity, health visiting, neonatal and children’s centres services. These are designed to provide parents with the best possible care to build close and loving relationships with their baby and to feed their baby in ways which will support optimum health and development. 

Organisations implement the standards in stages over a number of years. At each stage they are externally assessed by Unicef UK and when all the stages are passed they are accredited as Baby Friendly.

Helen Ferris, infant feeding co-ordinator, at the Trust, said: "We decided to join forces with the Baby Friendly initiative to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers in North Cumbria.

“Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes later in life. We also know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers – although mums might be more interested in hearing that it’s easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle feeding.

“We also set out to ensure that all mums and babies are supported to form a strong loving relationship – whatever their choice of feeding method – as this is the best start for every baby.”

The Trust runs maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Penrith Birthing Centre, Penrith, as well as employing community midwives across the north of the county.

Cumbria County Council, the body responsible for public health in the county, is backing the initiative.

Colin Cox, assistant director, health and wellbeing/director of public health, congratulated the maternity team at North Cumbria University Hospitals: “These awards will make a real difference, helping to ‘normalise’ breastfeeding in Cumbria and encourage new mums to try breastfeeding. There is a huge amount of work needed to gain these staged awards and so I thank everyone who has worked so hard to achieve the first stage.”

Ian Stewart, cabinet member for public health and community services, said: “The evidence is very clear that breastfeeding can help reduce health inequalities. As the lead local authority for public health we fully support both hospitals and health visiting to work towards full Unicef Baby Friendly status.”

The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by Unicef and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies. In the UK, the initiative works with health professionals to ensure that mothers and babies receive high-quality support to enable successful breastfeeding. The Certificate of Commitment recognises that a healthcare facility is dedicated to implementing recognised best practice standards.

“We are delighted that North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has received this award,” said Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director Sue Ashmore. “Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Mothers in North Cumbria have the satisfaction of knowing that their midwives and health visitors are aiming to provide the highest standard of care.”