Posted: April 19 2017
Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT), working with the county’s children’s centres, has been awarded the prestigious Baby Friendly Award and is the latest UK health care organisation to win international recognition from Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund).
"We decided to join forces with Unicef UK's Baby Friendly Initiative to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers in Hertfordshire,” said Kay Gilmour, Head of Children’s Universal Services at HCT.
Hertfordshire County Council’s director of Public Health, Jim McManus, added: "We know that many mums want to breastfeed but sometimes it’s not plain-sailing and mums tell us they need some support on this, especially when things aren’t going to plan, and they may feel they should just give up.
“There is a great deal of support through Hertfordshire’s children’s centres to provide new mums with the help they need to make the right choice for them and baby at what can be a vulnerable time.
“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. We also know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of obesity, diabetes and some cancers.”
Kay said: “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.”
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 UK public services to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships. Support for these relationships is important for all babies, not only those who are breastfed. The Award is given to health trusts after an assessment by a Unicef team has shown that recognised best practice standards are in place.
"We are delighted that Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust and the county's children's centres have achieved full Baby Friendly status," 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 Hertfordshire can be confident that their health visitors will provide high standards of care.”
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