Children’s centres in Plymouth have been awarded a Certificate of Commitment from Unicef UK, in recognition of the steps they are taking to improve care and increase the city’s breastfeeding rates.
The children’s centres, run by Barnardo’s, Action for Children and Lark, have joined forces and changed the way they support Plymouth’s parents. The changes ensure that no matter which organisation runs the centre, where in the city it is, or who parents speak to they will receive the same level of support.
Centres now offer organised, systematic support for parents about infant feeding. All support and advice is based on best practice and evidence, ensuring there is no confusion about how best to support your baby in those important first days, months and years.
Councillor Jemima Laing, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “Being a new parent is an exciting and precious time, but it can also be confusing and daunting. We want to make sure all parents get the same best-quality advice in Plymouth and this certification is an important confirmation that we are doing the right things in the city.”
Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health at Plymouth City Council said: “Whatever their choice of feeding method, we want to ensure that all parents and babies are supported to form a strong, loving relationship: this is the best start for every baby. We do encourage breastfeeding as it protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses in infancy, against cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes later in life and reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers. For those that can breastfeed it’s also easier, cheaper and 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. In the UK, the initiative works with health professionals to ensure that mothers and babies receive high-quality support to enable successful breastfeeding. The Certificate of Commitment recognises that a facility is dedicated to implementing recognised best practice standards.
Sue Ashmore, Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director, said: “We are delighted that Plymouth Children’s Centres have received this award. Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Parents attending Plymouth Children’s Centres have the satisfaction of knowing that their staff are aiming to provide the highest standard of care.”
The certificate was presented on 2 August 2019 at The Big Global Latch On Picnic in Victoria Park, which is held annually to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week.