18th November 2019

Breastfeeding: Going for gold

Left to Right: Kristie King, Infant Feeding Lead with Council Leader David Fothergill and Councillor Christine Lawrence.

Somerset County Council is setting its sights on gold in recognition of the countywide achievements in promoting and supporting breastfeeding mums.

Somerset’s Public Health Nursing Team have again been accredited with Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) standard 3 – and the authority now wants to go one step further and achieve gold, the highest Unicef standard awarded.

The aim of Unicef’s awards is to enable public services to support families with feeding and developing close, loving relationships, making sure that all babies get the best possible start in life.

The prestigious gold award means the council is not only maintaining current baby friendly initiatives, but going further: embedding a baby friendly culture in everything they do, through leadership, training and their services.

Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton achieved the highly acclaimed gold earlier this year, while Yeovil Hospital is also going for gold – so there’s a firm foundation for the County Council to build upon.

Cllr Christine Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Public Health at Somerset County Council said: “A huge well done to the Public Health nursing team for their reaccreditation of Unicef baby friendly stage 3. This highlights the excellent standards and provision in meeting the needs of Somerset families.

“Somerset midwives, health visitors and public health nursing services all support mums to breastfeed for as long as they wish – and now more than half of Somerset’s new mums breastfeed for at least six to eight weeks.  Now we want to go further; we aspire to be a ‘gold’ county providing the very best support across the County for breastfeeding mums and their families. We are fully committed to supporting new mums and fully committed to going for gold.”

Infant Feeding Lead with the Public Health Nursing team Kristie King said: “I am so proud of our workforce who provide parents with the best possible care to build close and loving relationships with their baby and to feed their baby in ways which promote optimum health and development.

“Our staff share a passion and responsibility to support parents within the infant feeding arena and our Infant Feeding Trainers go above and beyond to facilitate training dates to meet the needs of the workforce and share their knowledge. Somerset County Council is 100 per cent committed to working towards Going for Gold Status and I look forward to guiding us to achieving it.”

Alison Ficarotta, lead for women, children and young people at Somerset Partnership and Musgrove Park Hospital said: “We know that breastfeeding can be a challenge for some new mothers in the early days and that’s why the baby friendly initiative is so important, because it provides support before, during and after birth.

“At Musgrove Park Hospital, we were thrilled to achieve Gold Standard for our baby friendly care and support, and we are pleased to support a baby friendly Somerset. At Somerset Partnership we are not far behind and by making sure we can support our staff and patients across all our services who are breastfeeding babies, we hope to get UNICEF’s gold status too.

“Being part of this initiative means future generations of Somerset’s babies, their mothers and families will continue to experience the very best standards of care and support.”

For more information about breastfeeding support in Somerset, or if you are a community setting and wish to know more about gaining ‘Positive About Breastfeeding’ status, check out www.healthysomerset.co.uk/breastfeeding.