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Golden seal of approval for breastfeeding in Northumberland

Tuesday, 24 October, 2017
Golden seal of approval for breastfeeding in Northumberland

Support to encourage women in Northumberland to breastfeed has been given a prestigious national award.

Help and advice provided to families in the community across the county has been given the Unicef Baby Friendly Gold Award – the first award nationally for support provided outside of hospitals.

The gold award – the highest level available – endorses the care women, babies and families receive from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in relation to infant feeding before and following the birth of a baby.  

This includes advice from health visitors, nursery nurses and breastfeeding support workers who provide intensive support to women from just after they have given birth until, at least, the baby is six weeks old.

These are complemented by breastfeeding support volunteers who provide support over the telephone, and help to run groups in the community and on social media, the latter having proved extremely popular with around 500 members sharing their experiences of, and top tips for, breastfeeding.

A dedicated website provides information about local groups and events and a range of resources. 

The baby friendly accreditation is designed to provide parents with the best possible care to build close and loving relationships with their baby and to feed their baby in ways which will support optimum health and development.

Debbie Wade, midwife/health visitor infant feeding co-ordinator at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “We are delighted to be the first trust in the country to receive this prestigious award for the support we provide in the community.

“The simple fact is that breast milk is best for baby and breastfeeding and being breastfed have major health benefits for women and babies. It reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer for women and reduces the risk of gastroenteritis, ear and chest infections in babies and has a life-long effect on the health of their heart.

“In Northumberland we’re passionate about doing all we can to encourage women to breastfeed, giving them the practical and emotional support they need to feel able, confident and comfortable to breastfeed.

“The support we give is having a real impact on women with 17 per cent more women breastfeeding at six weeks after they’re given birth, and beyond, when they receive this type of additional support.

“We’re extremely pleased with the many positive comments from women about the support we give and this award will act as a springboard for us to continue our efforts to increase the number of women breastfeeding yet further.”

Councillor Veronica Jones, cabinet member with responsibility for public health, said; “Northumberland County Council is delighted to support Northumbria Healthcare and its breastfeeding service which has gained a UNICEF Gold Award.

“This award demonstrates the dedication and high level of service the breastfeeding peer support network offers mothers and their children throughout their breastfeeding journey.

“As a council we are fully committed to giving children the best start in life and have been investing in additional support for breastfeeding through our 0-19 public health services. There is strong evidence on the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child and we are proud to be a breastfeeding-friendly council in which all staff and council users are welcomed and encouraged to breastfeed in a comfortable environment.”

For further information about breastfeeding friendly locations across Northumberland, download the free Feed Finder App and for information throughout pregnancy and beyond, download the Baby Buddy App.