Health visitors win UNICEF award for supporting mums and encouraging breastfeeding

Published: Monday 27th March 17

Wandsworth’s Health Visitors have been highly commended by UNICEF for the help they give to the borough’s breastfeeding mothers.

UNICEF Baby Friendly promotes close, loving relationships between parents and their babies, particularly breastfeeding and other forms of responsive feeding, and works with local services to improve standards of care for all mothers and babies.

Health visitors at the celebration event

The Wandsworth health visiting service, commissioned by Wandsworth Council and run by St George’s NHS Trust, is working closely with neonatal and maternity services at St George’s Hospital to help parents get seamless care and support.

More than 50 healthcare professionals attended a town hall event to celebrate the award, where they heard talks from national experts Dr Amy Brown and Dr Helen Crawley about the importance of breastfeeding.

At the meeting the health visitors each pledged how they would encourage more women to breastfeed. Pledges included:

  • “Continue to promote the normalisation of breastfeeding and stop women who want to breastfeed being made to feel they can’t or shouldn’t”
  • “Reassure mums that babies have different temperaments and some babies need more cuddling and reassuring during a feed.”
  • “Tell women their right is to breastfeed anywhere”

One mum said that when breastfeeding did not come as easily as she was expecting, she turned to help from the Battersea-based Stormont Clinic.

"When I left hospital unable to breastfeed and having to express milk for my daughter. I was devastated.

“Three weeks later, still expressing and having to supplement with formula because of my daughter's weight problems, I was ready to give up and turn completely to formula. I had also developed painful mastitis. It was only then, at a midwife's appointment, that I was recommended the local Wandsworth Breastfeeding Clinic.

“That morning Sue was running the Clinic. She listened and understood my worries. She was nonjudgemental and gave practical and fantastic help.   By the end of the hour and a half - to my amazement - my daughter was breastfeeding!! I left elated.

“Help from the Stormont Clinic has been invaluable. I now go every week to weigh my daughter who I now breastfeed and to discuss any problems that might have arisen in the week. I am always met with the same warmth and enthusiasm from the team.”

The council’s health spokesman Cllr Jim Maddan said: “We continue to support all mothers in responsive feeding and developing close relationships with their babies. Not all mothers can breastfeed, but for those who can we know it provides the best start for babies and can help prevent childhood obesity. That is why we work with local NHS services to encourage and help mothers start to breastfeed, and continue for as long as possible.

“This UNICEF accreditation is an important milestone for the service, and I’d like to thank the health visiting team and St George’s for all their hard work.”

Wandsworth has a network of breastfeeding support groups, clinics and breastfeeding cafes across the borough. There is also extensive information and links to access further help on the council’s Family Information Service. Visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/breastfeeding.

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