Baby Friendly Rochdale

New parents living in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale can be assured that they will receive all the help and support they need to give their baby the very best start in life. Health visitors from Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with staff from Rochdale Council’s children’s centres, have achieved the prestigious Baby Friendly Award. Baby Friendly was established by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation and requires health professionals to meet a set of required standards, particularly around breastfeeding.

This includes ensuring all health visitors are trained to offer breastfeeding support and that breastfeeding-friendly facilities are available across the area. It’s well known that breastfeeding protects babies from a wide range of illnesses and infections. It also reduces the risk of the child becoming obese as they grow up.

Mums can benefit from a reduced risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, saving money, and improved weight loss - as breastfeeding uses up to 500 calories a day! Since implementing the Baby Friendly initiative in Rochdale, the percentage of mums who breastfeed their baby at six to eight weeks has increased from 29 per cent in 2009 to 43 per cent in 2013. Baby Friendly acknowledges that it’s just as important that mums who choose not to breastfeed, or are unable to do so, receive the support they need to ensure early bonding and attachment.

This means that local parents can be sure they will be supported every step of the way, however they choose to feed their baby. Val Rimmer, Pennine Care’s Infant Feeding Co-ordinator for the Rochdale Borough, said: “After several years of hard work, we’re delighted to have achieved Baby Friendly status. We want to support new mums to give their baby the very best start in life, and this award publically demonstrates our commitment to this.

“We know that not everyone finds breastfeeding easy, but the majority of women can overcome any problems with early support from a trained health professional. Women who choose not to breastfeed, or are unable to do so, can also be reassured that they will be fully supported. “I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our success and look forward to working with them to further improve the support that is on offer in the borough.”

Councillor Donna Martin, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Families, added: “I’m very pleased to be able to celebrate such a prestigious achievement. “Breast feeding is one of the most natural things in the world and yet we still have to champion its benefits and encourage new mums to give it a go.

“Joint working between public services is the key to delivering service improvements. This initiative is an excellent example of the benefits that effective partnership working can achieve.

“Congratulations to everyone involved in achieving Baby Friendly status for the Rochdale Borough. Your hard work is helping to protect the health and wellbeing of future generations.”

Work will now continue to further improve the support that is on offer for parents, with the aim of achieving the next stages of Baby Friendly – advanced status, followed by beacon status. Parents who would like advice and support around feeding their baby should speak to their health visitor in the first instance. Alternatively they can contact Val Rimmer on 01706 764734.