The Health Visiting Service within Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) has been awarded the prestigious Baby Friendly Award and is the latest UK health care facility to win international recognition from Unicef (United Nation’s Children’s Fund).
The award was presented to the service by Hywel Dda UHB’s Chair Bernardine Rees (pictured).
Jenny Israel, Head of Children’s Public Health Nursing 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 Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
“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,” added Jenny Israel.
“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.”
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 UK public services to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships. Support for these relationships is important for all babies, not only those who are breastfed.
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 Hywel Dda University Health Board 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 living within Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire can be confident that their Health Visitors will provide high standards of care.”