Baby friendly boost for Wiltshire Community Health Services (WCHS)

Posted: July 4, 2011

Baby friendly boost for Wiltshire Community Services

Wiltshire Maternity Services has reached another milestone towards gaining international recognition from the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative in the Community, by passing the second stage of the programme.

The initiative, set up by UNICEF (United Nations Children's Emergency Fund) and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme to improve the care provided for mothers and babies, with the focus in the UK on supporting successful breastfeeding.

More than 220 staff from across all Wiltshire Maternity Services, which includes units in Trowbridge, Chippenham, Paulton, Frome, Shepton Mallet and the Royal United Hospital (RUH) in Bath, have been working towards Stage 2 of the initiative for the past 18 months.

Wiltshire Maternity Services has already been awarded its Certificate of Commitment, which recognises that it is dedicated to implementing best practice standards, and Stage 1, where it was asked to develop education programmes for both staff and parents and an auditing tool to monitor standards.

Stage 2 centres on staff training and to pass this stage, Midwives and Midwifery Care Assistants had to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in breastfeeding and Baby Friendly standards.

Vicky Tinsley, Assistant Director of Maternity Services, said: "We decided to work towards Baby Friendly to increase breastfeeding rates across the county. Breast milk contains antibodies to protect babies from infection and a wide range of serious illnesses such as gastroenteritis and respiratory infections. Breastfeeding is also good for mothers as it can help protect them from breast and ovarian cancer and can give them stronger bones in later life.

"The UNICEF/Baby Friendly standards are a proven way of increasing breastfeeding rates. Baby Friendly supports both the health professional and mothers to continue their chosen method of feeding for as long as they wish.

"The results of the Stage 2 assessment show fantastic progress with nearly all the areas of assessment well in excess of the level required. This is down to some excellent team work. We are already working towards Stage 3 and will continue to be committed to the initiative and giving consistent breastfeeding advice."

Wiltshire Maternity Services is aiming to complete Stage 3, where it must ensure that all pregnant women and new mothers receive care that meets Baby Friendly standards, by May 2012. Wiltshire Maternity Services would then be accredited as Baby Friendly.


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