NEW mums in Gloucestershire can be assured of ‘baby friendly’ support for breast-feeding and nutrition after health professionals were given a seal of approval by children’s charity UNICEF.

Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, which manages seven community hospitals including the North Cotswold Hospital, in Moreton, has recently been awarded the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative Accreditation Stage 2.

The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme to promote and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships.

The award follows nearly two years of work and training for scores of staff by Pauline Holden and Sarah Biddlecombe, the Trust’s infant feeding leads, followed by assessments and interviews conducted by UNICEF.

Achieving the required UNICEF standard also involved training staff so that breastfeeding is encouraged and supported at all of the Trust’s sites, including its seven community hospitals.

Michael Richardson, deputy general manager for children and young people services, said: “Implementing Baby Friendly standards is a proven way of increasing breastfeeding rates and means health professionals can give mothers the support, information and encouragement they need.

“This accreditation is a wonderful achievement and a great credit to all colleagues involved to ensure the Trust now meets this high standard of care for new mums.”

The Trust employs more than 100 health visitors and 32 nursery nurses covering the whole of Gloucestershire.

It also runs Well Baby clinics each month in various locations including children’s centres and health clinics across the county.