Maternity and neonatal services at Musgrove Park Hospital are celebrating after they were awarded the prestigious UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Baby Friendly Award.
The award means the service is now globally recognised as a centre of excellence in providing parents with the best possible care to build close and loving relationships with their baby and to feed their baby in ways which will support optimum health and development.
The global Baby Friendly Initiative was set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation. It’s given to hospitals after a rigorous three stage assessment by a UNICEF team to prove the best standards and practices are in place. At each stage hospital units are externally assessed by UNICEF UK and when all stages are passed they are accredited as Baby Friendly. By taking part in the accreditation Musgrove Park Hospital now sees 8 out of 10 women provide breast milk to their baby after birth.
"We decided to join forces with UNICEF UK's Baby Friendly Initiative to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers,” said Carol Dight, Director of Nursing and Governance.
Liz Gunn, the hospital’s Infant Feeding Specialist who led the team to the accreditation, said: “It's a fantastic achievement and we can now say we have UNICEF UK Baby Friendly status at this hospital, which is fantastic for the women and families we serve.
“Over the years, we've changed our overall approach to the crucial time following birth,” explains Liz. “We encourage all babies to have skin-to-skin contact straight after birth and to maintain this for as long as possible. All babies are given the opportunity to have a first breastfeed.
“Fathers are also encouraged to have skin-to-skin contact to help them bond with their babies, and help to keep the baby calm. This is what new research tells us about the best post-birth environment for the continuing development of babies' brains. Continuous uninterrupted presence of the mother provides all the right stimulations for the baby's brain at the right time and is important for future physical and mental health.”
"We are delighted that Musgrove Park Hospital 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 at Musgrove Park can be confident that their midwives, maternity support workers and neonatal nurses will provide high standards of care.”
Pictured are: Some of Musgrove’s maternity and neonatal staff with the peer support workers (volunteers who come in to the hospital to help new mothers) and some of the mothers and babies they have helped deliver.