Good news is on the horizon for mums-to-be in Swindon as the Maternity Unit at the Great Western Hospital has received a top international award.
GWH has been awarded the prestigious Stage 3 accreditation from the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) which recognises hospitals that encourage new mums to breastfeed their babies and give them the best possible start to life.
The UK has the lowest level of breastfeeding mothers in Europe, but the latest data shows that, with the help of the exemplary service given by nurses and midwives at GWH, 78.4% of mothers in Swindon breastfeed their baby within the first week after giving birth.
Cathy Gale, Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife at GWH, said: “All the staff that work here have been trained to offer the best advice and support on breastfeeding to expectant and new mothers, so they can make an informed decision on how to feed their new arrival.
“This accreditation shows that we have really good practices in place for mums who want to breastfeed their new babies,” she said
Prior to being awarded Stage 3 accreditation, a team of UNICEF assessors interviewed new mums at GWH about the standard of care they had received.
The feedback received was extremely positive with mothers saying that the hospital staff actively encouraged breastfeeding soon after birth, as well as skin-on-skin contact between mother and baby, to initiate a close bond as quickly as possible.
Cathy said: “I am really pleased. This award shows that all the mums coming through the doors of GWH are getting the right support and care when it comes to breastfeeding.
“With this accreditation we should continue to see a rise in the number of mums breastfeeding here. There has already been an increase of around nine per cent in recent years,” she said.
Research has shown that breastfeeding has enormous health benefits for both mother and baby. It can help a baby’s digestion while also reducing the risk of diarrhoea and vomiting.
Breastfeeding can help keep postnatal depression at bay and also reduce the risk of the mother developing breast and ovarian cancer in later life.
The BFI, which was set up in 1994 by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, works alongside the NHS to ensure that new mothers are supported as best they can be when it comes to breast feeding.