The work Swindon Borough Council does with parents to help develop relationships and healthy feeding practices with their babies has been recognised with a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) UK accreditation.
The council’s Health Visitor and Family Nurse Partnership teams are now recognised as being Baby Friendly having passed the third stage of an assessment.
The evaluation looked at:
- How mothers are supported in feeding their babies
- If parents received useful and accurate information
- That parents get support to help build relationships with the babies
Assessors visited three venues and spoke to parents on 11 and 12 May about their experiences of the services offered.
Chloe Giles was supported by the council’s Family Nurse Partnership team – eight specially-trained nurses who work with younger first-time mothers from early pregnancy until children are two years old – to continue breastfeeding her three-month-old daughter Addie.
“Breastfeeding was something that I always intended to do and I really did not want to use a bottle to feed Addie,” she said.
Addie began to lose weight shortly after birth as she could not latch on to take breastmilk from her mother, who then found blood in her daughter’s stools.
The council referred Miss Giles, who lives in Toothill, to a specialist who discovered Addie was lactose intolerant.
“I was told that in order to continue to breastfeed, I would need to change my diet,” Miss Giles, 18, said. “I was determined to continue, so I altered what I ate to cut out dairy products so Addie could have my breastmilk.
“I was also taught different feeding techniques and positions, which really helped Addie to latch on – she has now put on a lot of weight and I am so pleased that I continued to breastfeed.
“I really appreciated the support I received as it helped me so much to breastfeed Addie, which is what I wanted to do all along.”
The Baby Friendly Environment was introduced in Swindon six years ago, with support for parents delivered via home visits; at health clinics; at children’s centres and at family centres.
There is also peer-to-peer assistance from Breastmates and support from National Childbirth Trust breastfeeding counsellor volunteers.
Services passed two earlier assessments which looked at staff training and how facilities were set up to implement specific standards.
To be accredited services need to be compliant with The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, a worldwide policy to regulate the promotion of breastmilk substitutes to protect breastfeeding.
To meet standards Swindon Borough Council has ensured there is no promotion of breastmilk substitutes, bottles, teats or dummies within its buildings where services are delivered or by any staff members.
Councillor Fionuala Foley, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “It is fantastic that our services to assist parents with the extremely important processes of nurturing and feeding new babies has been assessed as meeting the very high UNICEF UK standards.
“Some parents do require an additional level of support in this area and I am sure those we assist will find it reassuring that we have received this accreditation.
“It is also a brilliant achievement for all of our dedicated staff in this area of the council who work so well with parents and I would like to congratulate them for the services they provide being declared Baby Friendly.”