Baby-Friendly award for Bournemouth University

Bournemouth University has received the internationally-recognised Baby Friendly Initiative Award for the high quality of education in breastfeeding provided to midwifery students.

The Award will be officially presented to staff and students in December.

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 September, second year midwifery students from BU underwent a rigorous assessment by UNICEF BFI of their breastfeeding knowledge and skills, achieving an outstanding result in all elements of the assessment. The BFI’s assessors described the students as ‘motivated, confident, knowledgeable and articulate’.

In its report, UNICEF BFI said “The students interviewed demonstrated an exceptional level of knowledge and skill. Their enthusiasm and motivation was also noted and it was clear from conversations during the interviews that the students were putting their knowledge and skills into practice on a regular basis.”

In accepting the award, Professor Paul Lewis, Associate Dean – Midwifery, Rehabilitation and Health Sciences praised the students and his midwifery teaching team at BU for their exceptional performance.

“Our team of midwifery educators, superbly led by Alison Taylor and Dr. Catherine Angell, has worked with our key stakeholders, local and regional Breastfeeding Coordinators, student midwives and others to ensure our curriculum would meet the demanding standards set by UNICEF,” said Professor Lewis.

“The team have worked diligently and consistently to ensure that BU student midwives are appropriately educated and have the knowledge, skills and competencies to give information, advice and support to mothers about infant feeding,” Professor Lewis continued.

“They know that breastfeeding provides significant health benefits to mothers, babies and our wider society. Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as allergies and diabetes in childhood. We also know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers – although mums might be more interested in hearing that it’s easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle feeding.”

Professor Lewis added “BU’s midwifery lecturers, have themselves had to undergo further training and have worked hard to support and inspire our student midwives,” he continued. “They in turn have demonstrated their enthusiasm and expertise in providing evidence-based midwifery care that supports mothers and babies at such a critical time and our success as a University has been dependent upon an enthusiastic and dedicated student body.”

The Baby Friendly University Award was launched in the UK in 2008 – the first such award anywhere in the world – in order to ensure that high levels of training in breastfeeding are incorporated in midwifery and health visitor training courses.

The University Award recognises that a university has implemented best practice in breastfeeding training, and has passed a thorough external assessment by UNICEF staff.

“We are delighted that Bournemouth University has received this award,” said Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director Sue Ashmore. “Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Becoming Baby Friendly Accredited means that Bournemouth University is addressing this problem and aiming to ensure more mothers can successfully breastfeed their babies in future.”