New mums needing breastfeeding support and advice can now find help at children’s centres and health visiting clinics across the county. East Sussex’s health visiting and children centre service has been given stage 2 of an internationally-recognised accreditation by Unicef after training hundreds of staff to support mums to breastfeed.
Having already achieved Stage 1 of the charity’s Baby Friendly Initiative, the team was awarded Stage 2 accreditation after demonstrating that staff are well trained to provide parents with the best possible help and advice. Sharon Paine, Baby Friendly Initiative community lead, said: “We are delighted that our efforts have been recognised, and that parents can be confident that we provide high quality information and support.
“Breastfeeding has clear health benefits for mother and child, but it’s not always easy and nationally only 44 per cent are still breastfeeding their babies at six to eight weeks. Breast milk is perfectly balanced, providing the exact amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins to enable a baby to thrive as well as allowing mum and baby to get closer, physically and emotionally, strengthening the bond between them.”
The Unicef accreditation is based on a set of standards designed to improve breastfeeding rates and help parents make informed decisions about feeding their baby. It also ensures that mothers who have chosen to bottle feed have the necessary information to do so safely and successfully. Before awarding accreditation, Unicef assessors interviewed health visiting staff and children’s centre staff to assess whether the initiative’s standards were common practice.
In order to achieve the standards, the service had to demonstrate that more than 400 members of staff had received training appropriate to their role. The thee-day assessment was designed to ensure at least 80 per cent of staff have the knowledge to provide advice, guidance or support. “We have staff that are confident and knowledgeable, and can support parents in feeding their babies. The feedback we have received so far has been extremely positive,” Sharon added “We are now working towards Stage 3 accreditation which will assess if parents are having the support they need, with staff providing timely, good quality information and guidance.”