NHS takes ‘baby friendly’ approach up a level whilst improving breastfeeding rates in Cumbria

NHS teams at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust are celebrating Breastfeeding Celebration Awareness week in variety of ways to continue to raise awareness of breastfeeding and the benefits.

Health Visitors at CPFT have recently had specialist training in order to be able to give new mums the best advice on breastfeeding and following this have been awarded UNICEF’s Stage 2 Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation; an evidence-based standard promoting breastfeeding and safe formula feeding practices.

Diane Clark and Fiona Sim, Infant Feeding coordinators at CPFT have been leading the implementation of the Initiative in partnership with the Trust’s health visiting teams since 2016 and achieved the first stage of the accreditation in 2017. The initiative has helped increase the breastfeeding rates by more than 10%.

Fiona said:

“We are delighted to have achieved the second stage of the award, we’ve been working really hard to do this by ensuing our health visiting staff have received the right training to provide the best support to parents and babies to match their needs.

“We have formed a training curriculum and delivered training days for our health visiting teams to provide the latest information on breastfeeding and relationship building between parents and baby.

“We’ve also been working with Children Centres and Public Health teams in Cumbria to train people to become volunteer breastfeeding peer supporters as well as setting up breastfeeding support groups.”

Diane said:

“All the Health Visiting teams worked incredibly hard to prepare for the assessment, which involved UNICEF assessors visiting Cumbria for two days in April and interviewing a random selection of staff by intensively assessing them on their individual knowledge and skills of breastfeeding. Myself and Fiona were also interviewed on our specialist knowledge as Infant Feeding Coordinators.

“Since we started working towards Baby Friendly Initiative in 2016 the breastfeeding rates in Cumbria have risen from 29% to 40% in 2019 for 6-8 week old babies which is fantastic and something we are really proud of.”

The Baby Friendly Initiative team at UNICEF said:

“The Trust presents a positive approach towards implementing the Baby Friendly standards and has consistently displayed enthusiasm and commitment towards providing an effective training programme. The assessment revealed staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills to implement Baby Friendly standards to support parents to have close and loving relationships with their baby, promote breastfeeding and support mothers with feeding their baby.”

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust achieved the stage 2 accreditation last year and now both Trusts have one more stage to reach in order to be accredited as a Baby Friendly organisation.

Claire King, Consultant in Public Health, Cumbria County Council said:

“Congratulations to Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust on reaching Level 2 of the Baby Friendly Accreditation. It is a wonderful achievement that reflects a positive commitment by the Health Visiting team to give mums and their babies the best breastfeeding support possible. This is a vital part of our Starting Well programme, which is also aiming to increase the amount of peer support available and make sure health and care professionals provide clear consistent information about breastfeeding.”

NCUH are also raising awareness of breastfeeding during Breastfeeding Celebration week, Helen Ferris, Infant Feeding Coordinator said:

“We are commencing celebrations today with a full study day to educate staff about UNICEFs Baby Friendly Initiative, breastfeeding and relationship building. This will support our work towards reaching the third stage of becoming baby friendly accredited, which we are aiming to achieve in early 2020.

“We also want to raise awareness of the numerous benefits of breastfeeding to mums and babies and the importance of the Baby Friendly Initiative call for action to encourage everyone from government level and onwards to support it.

“We have worked within the Trust to develop a back to work policy for breastfeeding mums and a designated area for them to express in has been identified. We have also released an antenatal hand expressing bundle containing information to support mums to harvest colostrum in pregnancy to support breastfeeding in the early days. This works well with the newly released new born guidelines we work to and has so far been a huge success and has greatly reduced babies being admitted to onto the Neonatal Unit and assisted mums to establish breastfeeding with much less intervention.”