The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organization and Unicef. It was established in 1992 to encourage maternity hospitals to implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and to practise in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. The Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) subsequently extended the principles to include community health-care services and university programmes for midwifery and health visiting/public health nursing.
The accreditation across King’s College London ensures that newly qualified midwives are equipped with the basic knowledge and skills they need to support breastfeeding effectively, in midwifery practice, clinical practice and to promote optimum parenting.
Both midwifery staff and students worked together to achieve the accreditation, which was led by Zeni Koutsi and Caroline Hunter. Zeni said:
‘This accomplishment is of great importance for King’s and the Department of Midwifery. Receiving this award recognises that our teaching meets the high standards of BFI UK. Our students are competent, able to support and make a positive difference to the mothers and babies they care for. It is important to recognise the effort and dedication of the team to achieve this award and congratulate our graduated midwifery students for their participation and hard work’.
Their efforts were commended by Sam Basset, Lead Midwife for Education and Deputy Head of the Department of Midwifery, and Elsa Montgomery, Head of the Department of Midwifery. Elsa said:
‘I am delighted that we have been re-accredited as a Baby Friendly University. Successful breastfeeding makes a huge public health contribution for mothers and babies. As a Department we are committed to the sustainability of this award and to ensuring that the BFI standards are embedded in our curricula.’
The Department undertakes a lot of research in breastfeeding, and the accreditation will further the impact of this.
The report highlighted that King’s College London has:
‘…consistently displayed enthusiasm and commitment towards providing an effective training programme. The assessment revealed the students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to implement Baby Friendly standards around close and loving relationships, promoting breastfeeding and supporting mothers with feeding.
The university is recognised for its research profile, it is exciting to see that the team have won a Florence Nightingale grant and will be exploring how they strengthen infant feeding education for child nursing, midwifery and health visiting students – we look forward to the results.’
The Department works with many leading NHS Trusts in the area, most which are also BFI accredited. Working together in this way makes a strong contribution to local communities, optimising the health of women and children, providing best practice education and having a greater positive effect on society.