KGH has achieved the first stage of becoming an official Unicef /Baby Friendly accredited hospital for breastfeeding.
It means that the hospital has proved to Unicef/Baby Friendly that it has laid a firm foundation in supporting more local mothers to take up and sustain breast feeding.
Over the next three years the hospital will carry out further work to obtain full accreditation – a status which is internationally recognised as a gold standard in breast feeding support.
KGH Breast Feeding Co-ordinator Petra Traynor said: “Our aim is to increase the awareness of the enormous health benefits of breastfeeding as well as supporting local mums to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months.
“Lots of research shows that breast feeding can help prevent babies getting illnesses such as gastroenteritis, diabetes, allergies and childhood obesity.
“For mums it can reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It also has great psychological benefits including reducing the risk of postnatal depression.”
The international Unicef/BabyFriendly Initiativeaccreditation focuses largely on raising the profile of the benefits of breastfeeding and reducing health inequalities. An increase in breast feeding rates can help to improve the health outcomes of all mothers and babies both in the UK and across the world.
The first step in becoming a ‘Baby Friendly’ hospital is to sign a Certificate of Commitment which the hospital did in 2009.
The hospital then works its way through a three stage process which focuses on developing best practice standards in the care given to mums and babies, in staff training and in hospital policies and guidelines.
The process also involves visits where Unicef/Baby Friendly assessors interview staff and mums to ensure the hospital has fully implemented the required standards.
The hospital is now celebrating having passed stage 1 which means that it has the correct foundations in place to reach full accreditation. The Trust’s policies and guidelines all adopt best practice standards, and its staff training programme supports the Ten Steps to Successful breastfeeding.
KGH’s Head of Midwifery Eilish Kennedy said: “Passing the first stage of the Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative is a sign that the hospital is doing everything it can to promote breast feeding locally.
“We think it is important to do this because our staff play a key role in helping new mums to fully prepare for parenthood. “
Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director Sue Ashmore said: “We are delighted that KGH has made this commitment to our initiative and we wish the hospital well in its journey to further improve care for mothers, babies and their families.”
The hospital is also aligning itself against the Unicef Baby Friendly Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding which basically define what hospitals should be aiming to do during the accreditation process.