Midwives at George Eliot Hospital’s maternity unit have received recognition for the work they do to encourage local mothers to breastfeed their babies and promote the health benefits breastfeeding brings to babies and mothers.
The Certificate of Commitment recognises that the Trust is dedicated to implementing recognised best practice and is the first step towards gaining international recognition from the UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Baby Friendly Initiative, a global programme set up in conjunction with the World Health Organisation which aims to improve the care provided to all mothers and babies.
In the UK, the programme works with health professionals to ensure that mothers and babies receive high-quality support to enable successful breastfeeding.
To receive the certificate, the Trust had to demonstrate that all midwives have received breastfeeding training and stay up to date with modern breastfeeding techniques. To further support the Trust’s commitment the maternity service has been recruiting a team of women to train as ‘peer supporters’ who can offer help and advice to women breastfeeding in the hospital and the community. The breastfeeding rate amongst new mothers at the Trust currently stands at 59%; the Trust is committed to increasing this by 2% a year over the next few years.
Karen Shorthose, the recently appointed Infant Feeding and Obesity Coordinator, received the certificate on behalf of the Trust. Karen said: “We are delighted to receive this award and the recognition for the work we are doing to improve the health and wellbeing of local women and children. Evidence shows that breastfeeding protects babies against a a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy, as well as allergies and diabetes in childhood. We also know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers. It’s also easier, cheaper and less hassle than bottle feeding.”
Sue Ashmore, Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director, said: “We are delighted that George Eliot NHS Trust has received this award. Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Mothers at George Eliot Hospital have the satisfaction of knowing that their maternity and neonatal staff are aiming to provide the highest standard of care.”