Imperial College Healthcare recognised by UNICEF for its commitment to help mothers breastfeed

Maternity services run by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have been recognised by global charity UNICEF (United Nation’s Children Fund) for their work supporting women to breastfeed.

The Trust has been awarded a UNICEF Certificate of Commitment which is the first stage in a rigorous assessment to achieve the full UNICEF Baby Friendly accreditation.

As part of the accreditation, maternity services undergo a tough assessment by UNICEF assessors and are required to demonstrate excellent working practices to encourage breastfeeding which has recognised health benefits for both babies and their mothers and to support mothers in bonding with their new-born baby.

Ellie Matthews, the Trust’s infant feeding lead midwife, said:

“It’s fantastic that Imperial’s maternity services have been recognised by UNICEF.

“We already have schemes in place to support breastfeeding including training of staff at all levels in supporting women to breastfeed, the provision of infant feeding information to women both antenatally and in the postnatal period, the provision of practical support in the community, and the establishment of a complex breastfeeding and tongue-tie clinic.

“Moving beyond maternity services we have also established links with paediatric services, which recently created the opportunity to deliver training on separate occasions to both a large group of local GPss and local health visitors tailored to their needs. The overarching aim is to provide consistent high quality feeding support to all women at every stage.

“As this award shows, we are committed to building on our work so far to achieve full Baby Friendly accreditation and to continue to provide the highest standards of care and support to mothers and their new-born babies.”

The Trust’s neonatal units will now also be working towards UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation jointly with maternity which will help to ensure even greater consistency of support across all services at the Trust used by mothers, babies and their families.

The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, works with health professionals to ensure that mothers and babies receive high-quality support to enable successful breastfeeding. The Certificate of Commitment recognises that a health care facility is dedicated to implementing recognised best practice standards.

Sue Ashmore, Baby Friendly Initiative programme director, said: “We’re delighted that Imperial College Healthcare’s maternity services have received this award. Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Mothers at Imperial College Healthcare have the satisfaction of knowing that their midwives are aiming to provide the highest standard of care.”

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