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Breastfeeding initiative given UNICEF recognition

An initiative to help Lichfield mums feel more confident about breasteeding their babies has been recognised by global health organisation UNICEF.

Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded UNICEF’s Stage 1 Baby Friendly accreditation after an assessment of the support and training put in place to encourage more mothers to breastfeed.

The Trust is now keen to achieve Stage 2 accreditation within 18 months, although this normally takes two years.

Infant feeding coordinator Jo Marshall said: “We want to keep the momentum going, particularly now we have the right training in place.

“It’s about getting down to the nitty gritty. We want women to be able to make an informed choice and feel confident about breastfeeding their babies if they want to.”

The Trust has developed special training for staff, including community midwives and paediatric doctors and nurses, as well as ward clerks and other non-clinical staff so they know how to deal with enquiries about breastfeeding.

The programme mixes knowledge about breastfeeding and its benefits with practical skills and covers possible objections and concerns, including cultural issues around breastfeeding. Staff are then in a position to offer women advice and reassurance.

Jo added: “The aim is to provide small amounts of information at different times throughout pregnancy – during the community midwife’s regular visits, for instance – so women have time to digest it and get a clear idea of what’s involved.”

The Trust is especially keen to get the message across to younger mothers.

“Breastfeeding rates among these mums are not as high as we’d like,” Jo explained. “Ideally we’d like to see education about the health benefits – to both mother and baby – start sooner, perhaps at school.

“We have some contact with teenage mums through parentcraft classes, which cover feeding, and find they often do what their own mothers did.

“There’s a lot of peer pressure on young mums, and maybe breastfeeding just isn’t seen as cool. But if one tries it and gets enthusiastic, she’ll tell others.”

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