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Baby-friendly is best for WWL

Newsdate: 1 May 2018

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust is the first NHS Trust in the North West to win international recognition from Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund) after being awarded a prestigious Baby Friendly Award.

And at a special event held at the Wigan Infirmary site, staff members from the Trust’s Neonatal Unit were presented with their plaque by Andrew Foster, Chief Executive of WWL.

"We decided to join forces with Unicef UK's Baby Friendly Initiative to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers and babies at WWL. Being in a Neonatal Unit creates physical barriers to touch, smell and breastfeeding, and can create difficulties in establishing and fostering a loving and responsive parent-child relationship,” said Kathryn Ashton, WWL’s Infant Feeding Coordinator.

"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 some cancers, but 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 new-born.”

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 Unicef UK Baby Friendly neonatal standards cover:

• Supporting parents to have a close and loving relationship with their baby.

• Enabling babies to receive breastmilk and to breastfeed when possible.

• Valuing parents as partners in their baby’s care.

When fully implemented, the standards empower neonatal staff with knowledge and skills to support breastfeeding/breastmilk use and parent-infant relationships; delivering a transformational cultural shift, which brings parents and staff together in partnership to care for the baby.

The Baby Friendly Award is given to hospitals and healthcare facilities after an assessment by a Unicef team has shown that recognised best practice standards are in place.

Julie Armstrong, Neonatal Unit Manager said: “We are really proud to be the first unit in the North West to achieve full accreditation. It is a reflection of the team’s hard work and dedication to the families and their babies in our care. The team have worked closely with our families and really listened to their needs and suggestions”.

Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director, Sue Ashmore said: "We are delighted that the Neonatal Unit at WWL has achieved full Baby Friendly status."

“Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need but new mothers at WWL can be confident that their midwives and health visitors will provide high standards of care.”