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UNICEF award for Southampton midwifery and health visitor training

Published: 21 November 2011

The University of Southampton has been awarded a Certificate of Commitment from the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative for the high levels of training in breastfeeding provided to students on its midwifery and health visiting courses.

“We know that many women give up breastfeeding before they want to because of difficulties which could have been prevented if skilled help had been on hand. By ensuring that our students are fully trained in how to help a mother breastfeed her child, more women will be able to breastfeed their babies for longer,” explains Sue Faulds, who leads the graduate nursing and midwifery programme at the University.

She adds, "Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as allergies and diabetes in childhood. We also know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers – although mums might be more interested in hearing that it’s easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle feeding.”

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.

The Baby Friendly University Award was launched in the UK in 2008 – the first such award anywhere in the world – by Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo, in order to ensure high levels of training in breastfeeding are incorporated in midwifery and health visitor training courses.

The Certificate of Commitment recognises that a university is dedicated to implementing recognised best practice standards in breastfeeding training, and is part way along the road to full Baby Friendly Accreditation.

"We are delighted that the University of Southampton has received this award,” 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. Working towards full Baby Friendly Accreditation means that Southampton is addressing this problem and aiming to ensure more mothers can successfully breastfeed their babies in future.”

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