Northumberland Children's Centres recognised for breastfeeding support

Children’s Centres recognised by UNICEF for breastfeeding support 

Northumberland’s network of 12 Children’s Centres have been recognised by UNICEF for their commitment to supporting breastfeeding mothers. 
The Baby Friendly Initiative, run by UNICEF, is a global programme designed to provide parents with the best possible care to build close and loving relationships with their baby. This includes promoting breastfeeding and giving support to mothers with feeding their baby. 
The Children’s Centres have been awarded Stage 2 accreditation following a rigorous assessment, training and audit process which covered a variety of topics and areas of advice and guidance. 
It follows in the footsteps of the 0-19 Integrated Public Health Service (Health Visiting and School Nursing Teams) who achieved Level 3 Gold award and are now credited with Sustaining Gold award which is the highest level available.    
Guy Renner-Thomson, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a great achievement for the  Children's Centres and our Early Help teams. 
“The centres and staff are at the heart of their communities and the parents who engage with our services respect and value the support and advice which is always available. 
“I know how hard the teams have worked to achieve this and it is a credit to the dedication and enthusiasm they demonstrate in their work.
“In the Autumn, our Children’s Centres will be expanding to become Family Hubs – supporting families whatever the age of their child. As part of this, the Government has earmarked more funding for breastfeeding support, so we can continue to invest in the services we provide to help our children and young people thrive.” 
This week is National Breastfeeding Week and will see initiatives taking place across the county.  
The NHS and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a bay’s life, follow by continued breastfeeding, alongside other foods, until two years and beyond.  
Breast milk is best for baby and breastfeeding and being breastfed have major health benefits for women and babies. It reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer for women and reduces the risk of gastroenteritis, ear and chest infections in babies and has a life-long effect on the health of their heart.  
But it can bring challenges – making support for parents all the more important. 
In the UK, we have some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, with eight out of ten women stopping breastfeeding before they want to. 
In Northumberland, the number of mothers who continue to breastfeed after six-to-eight weeks increased to 42%. 
Cllr Wendy Pattison, Cabinet Member for Adult Wellbeing and Health, said: “Gaining this accreditation demonstrates that all mothers will receive friendly and high-quality support from staff and volunteers at all our Children’s Centres whatever feeding choices they make.  
“This complements the approach of the Health Visiting Teams ensuring all staff are trained to the same standards and confident they are using the most up to date knowledge and skills and able to share resources. 
“As a council we are fully committed to giving children the best start in life and have been investing in additional support for breastfeeding. 
“There is strong evidence on the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child and we are proud to be a breastfeeding-friendly council and all staff induction training modules include an emphasis of the importance to support mothers who choose to breastfeed at all council venues.” 
For more information about breastfeeding support in Northumberland’s Children’s Centres visit: Northumberland Children's Centres 
View all news