Posted: July 13 2017
Vicki Parry and her Son Patrick
At a time when Europe is on everyone’s lips, would you be surprised to learn that the UK is almost a staggering 23% behind one of our neighbours, Germany, when it comes to the number of women still doing any degree of breastfeeding after a year? When the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother include lowering the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and for the child reducing the risk of allergies, Type 2 diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it makes the fact even starker.
However, things in Hertfordshire are changing and steps are being taken by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT), together with Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) across their children’s centres and health visiting services, to tackle this head on.
On a blisteringly hot day, mothers, babies, HCT and HCC staff, including Chief Executive David Law, united to celebrate being awarded UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) stage three accreditation.
The BFI is based on a set of standards designed to provide parents with the best possible information to support building close and loving relationships with their baby. It also enables parents to make informed decisions about feeding their baby and then to support those who choose to breastfeed to do so successfully.
UNICEF UK, were highly impressed with the level of positive comments received by mothers and families regarding the service offered by HCT. Carmel Duffy, UNICEF’s lead assessor said: “As well as being truly impressed, it was a real privilege to witness the care and support being provided for mothers, babies and families across the health visiting team and children centre services.”
The glowing comments from UNICEF were very much welcomed by everyone on the day, but the true indication in assessing the impact the high level of BFI accreditation reached by HCT is having on the community is put into perspective when talking to one of the mothers who has first-hand experience of the service. Vicki Parry from Hatfield, who was at the celebration with her toddler Patrick, was full of praise saying: “It was a complete lifeline to me…there is no way I could have gotten through this and been empowered to believe that my body was equipped to do it.” Three years later, Patrick is still being breastfed as is his new baby sister.
Georgina Berg, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust’s Infant feeding co-ordinator said: Embedding these standards supports a positive culture of care with improved outcomes for parents, babies and their families regarding infant feeding and relationship building.”
Ms Duffy went on to add: “The way Georgina and the rest of the team have implemented the standards have been outstanding, so much so that I have recommended other places talk to them.”
This accreditation demonstrates that every member of staff working in Hertfordshire children’s centres and the health visiting service, have been trained to support breastfeeding mothers whilst also providing mothers who have chosen to bottle feed with information to do this as safely as possible in a responsive manner.
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