A Better Start Southend, in partnership with Family Action, has been awarded a Certificate of Commitment in its first step towards gaining international recognition from the Unicef UK (United Nation’s Children’s Fund) Baby Friendly Initiative.

“We decided to join forces with the Baby Friendly Initiative to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers in the Better Start Southend areas, and through that, Southend as a whole. Collaborating with Health Visitors, Midwifery, and Children’s Centres we are now officially working to reach the high standards set by Baby Friendly.” says Gill O’Connor, Infant Feeding Lead at A Better Start Southend.

“Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes later in life. We also know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers. Many mums also tell me it’s easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle feeding!”

“We also set out to ensure that all mums and babies are supported to form a strong loving relationship – whatever their choice of feeding method – as this is the best start for every baby.” She adds.

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. In the UK, the initiative works with health professionals to ensure that mothers and babies receive high-quality support to enable successful breastfeeding. The Certificate of Commitment recognises that a health care facility is dedicated to implementing recognised best practice standards.

“We are delighted that Family Action, supported by A Better Start Southend, has received this award,” 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 at Southend have the satisfaction of knowing that their midwives and health visitors are aiming to provide the highest standard of care.”

“Family Action’s Children’s Centres in Southend are very excited about the opportunity to train our staff and achieve our Baby Friendly Initiative breastfeeding accreditation. We are always looking to improve our service and the support available to our service users. We hope we will be able to support a lot more mothers and their babies going forward and to promote breastfeeding throughout our nine Children’s Centres.” said Melissa Cullingham, Children’s Centre Cluster Manager for Southend Children’s Centres.


Article published December 2017

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