Cwm Taf University Health Board has been awarded the prestigious Baby Friendly Award and is the latest UK healthcare organisation to win international recognition from Unicef.
Sue Ashmore, Programme Director for the Baby Friendly Initiative said: “We are delighted that Cwm Taf University Health Board has achieved full baby friendly.
“Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Mothers at Cwm Taf can be confident that their midwives and health visitors will provide high standards of care.”
Sue Hitchins, Flying Start Parenting Development Health Visitor at the Health Board said: “We decided to join forces with Unicef UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers around the area.
“New mums from around the Cwm Taf area have been encouraged to breast feed their newborns by midwives and health visitors to give their child the best start in life. Health visitors are trained in breastfeeding to be able to advise new mums on the benefits of breastfeeding and give them the support they need.
“Breastfeeding is the best start a baby can get. It protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses as well as having great benefits for the mother.
“Myself and Gaynor Evans midwife lead for infant feeding within the Health Board set up a baby friendly group four years ago. This is a requirement for the baby friendly award. The aim of this group is to offer support and advice to breastfeeding mothers. This group has been exceptionally successful and mothers and babies gather one day a week to discuss any issues or problems they have with breastfeeding as well as anything else they are concerned about. They have the opportunity to chat to other mothers and have found it a great way of meeting other mums with babies.
Natassja John from Mountain Ash who takes her baby Lucy Rose to the group has been breast feeding for six and a half months. She said: “I was determined to breastfeed and did struggle initially due to different circumstances. I found this group a fantastic support and nothing was ever too much trouble for the staff at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon.
“It was an entirely different experience from the first time round on my daughter Kitti Mae who is now three years old. I wanted to breastfeed then to but found it very difficult as the support wasn’t available like it is now. I look forward to attending the group every week as I have got to know all the mothers and we have a chat and talk about our babies and their progress.”
Another mum at the group Kelly Llewellyn said: “I wanted to breastfeed my son Oliver but was really anxious about it. I was nervous being a first time mum and felt conscious that people were watching me.
“I came to the group in Ysbyty Cwm Cynon and the support and advice I have had off the staff is amazing. The other mothers here are lovely and we share concerns and offer each other advice.
“I have the confidence to breastfeed anywhere now, where in the beginning I would try to avoid it. I honestly think without the group I wouldn’t have persevered. They have been a fantastic help and continue to be.”
Positive comments continued from the mothers at the group, Hayley from Cwmbach said: ”I am still breastfeeding my son at 16 months. The support is fantastic and I still attend the group whenever I can, even though I have gone back to work.”
Leanne Hodgetts and Mair Clarke both from Aberdare have 13 week old babies. Leanne’s being twin girls explained how the group has been a great support and offered helpful advice. They both found it a great way of catching up with the other mothers.
Gaynor Evans, lead midwife for infant feeding said: “Since the group was set up the feedback we have had from the mothers has been fantastic. They say that it has made a huge difference to them with regards to having support at hand and being able to meet up with other mother’s who are breastfeeding is also of benefit.
“One of the groups that attended Ysbyty Cwm Cynon even nominated themselves for a Mother & Baby Award called the ‘Bobbie Award’ for the friendship they gained while in the group, and they won!.”