The Health Visiting service run by the Trust with the support of East Sussex County Council’s Children’s Centres, has been awarded the prestigious Baby Friendly Award from Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund).
The award, which was presented by Anne Strong, UNICEF Professional Officer at a ceremony, recognises public services that protect, promote and support breastfeeding and strengthen mother-baby and family relationships.
Sharon Paine, Locality Manager and Baby Friendly Initiative Lead for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We decided to join forces with Unicef UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers in the community.
“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 – although mums might be more interested in hearing that it is easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle feeding.
“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 newborn – through having maximum skin to skin contact and understanding how her baby communicates with her and needs her to respond.”
Celia Lamden, Head of Service, Health Visiting and Children’s Centres, said: “I am delighted that the hard work of the integrated Health Visiting and Children’s Centre teams has been recognised by Unicef; this demonstrates that all staff are confident and committed to offering high levels of support to families with feeding and developing close, loving relationships, ensuring that all babies get the best possible start in life.”
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. The Award is given to health facilities/hospitals/universities after an assessment by a Unicef team has shown that recognised best practice standards are in place.
“We are delighted that the East Sussex Health Visiting Service with the support of Children’s Centres has achieved full Baby Friendly status,” said Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director, Sue Ashmore. “Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Mothers accessing community services in East Sussex can be confident that their health visitors will provide high standards of care.”