World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1-7 August, and it aims to raise awareness about breastfeeding and its advantages.
The Royal London Hospital has been an UNICEF UK baby friendly accredited hospital since 2012 and is working towards becoming gold accredited this October.
Baby friendly hospitals support mothers and babies to stay together in the immediate post-birth period, helping to get their relationship off to a good start. The Royal London empowers parents of sick or preterm babies to take an active part in their care on the neonatal unit and puts mothers and families at the heart of care.
Tower Hamlets Public Health recognised that The Royal London Hospital and Tower Hamlets community needed the baby friendly programme, to increase breastfeeding rates and reduce health inequality in the borough. Public Health commissioned teams at the hospital and in the community to start these projects in 2004. After three stages of assessment, The Royal London became accredited in 2012.
Baby friendly coordinator, Saira Salahuddin said: “The programme supports maternity, neonatal, health visiting and children’s centre services to transform their care. It also works with universities so that their maternity students have the strong foundation of knowledge needed to support families.
“The prestigious baby friendly award is a nationally recognised mark of quality care and the maternity service at The Royal London is now ready to work towards the highest baby friendly standard – the Gold award.
“We have been working for a long time to implement and maintain this accreditation. The gold award means all staff will have ownership of the baby friendly initiative and the hospital will have a baby friendly guardian, who will oversee and nurture this.”
Public Health commissioned another service called Tower Hamlets baby feeding service to increase breastfeeding rates in the borough. This helped Tower Hamlets become the first borough in London to become baby friendly in both hospital and community.
The quality of breastfeeding support in Tower Hamlets was recognised by the Government in the 2021 budget as an example of best practice, with the borough now having the highest rate of breastfeeding in the country in babies aged 6-8 weeks.
A mother who gave birth at The Royal London said: “I had lovely care by The Royal London Hospital maternity team, all staff were so supportive and helped me throughout my delivery, to postnatal time in the hospital.
“My baby was not very well after he has born, but the neonatologist and the staff on postnatal ward gave me all support towards my baby’s feeding.”
The maternity services at Whipps Cross and Newham hospitals are working towards achieving baby friendly accreditation.