The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organization and UNICEF. It was established in 1992 to encourage maternity hospitals to implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, and to practise in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in order to improve breastfeeding rates throughout the world. The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative subsequently extended the principles to include community healthcare services and university programmes for midwifery and health visiting/public health nursing.
The accreditation as a Baby Friendly University course takes place over two stages. Stage 1 of the assessment procedure is designed to ensure that the necessary processes are in place so that the breastfeeding education content of each designated course effectively meets all of the Baby Friendly learning outcomes. The University of Northampton was highly commended for the thorough approach taken to addressing the learning outcomes and particularly for the innovative infant feeding work pack.
Janice Smith, Senior Lecturer in Practice (Midwifery) explained: “The Baby Friendly Initiative primarily set out to support breastfeeding mothers, but it now also fully embraces the fact that those who make an informed choice to formula feed equally need support and guidance from their healthcare professionals. Women’s choice is central to high standard midwifery care and can enhance strong and supportive relationships between families and their midwife. By fully integrating the Baby Friendly learning outcomes within our curriculum we aim to equip our students to support all mothers regardless of their choice of feeding method.”
Janice continued: “The three local Trust sites who support our students clinical placements are also working towards Baby Friendly accreditation so it is reassuring that we can support our students both in theory and practice to work as a team towards the same goal. We are thrilled as a team to have achieved this accreditation and I personally feel that it is an additional element of our midwifery programme which may attract students to come to The University of Northampton.”
The University of Northampton will now be assessed for Stage 2, with assessment to be carried out by July 2015. Stage 2 assesses student knowledge and skills via face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of students who have attended the full education programme to ensure the programme equips them with the knowledge and skills to effectively support breastfeeding within their practice.