University awarded with Baby Friendly status by UNICEF

05 January 2016

Breastfeeding can be a taboo subject in the UK and while breastfeeding rates are gradually increasing, they are still among the lowest in Europe.

The School of Public Health, Midwifery and Social Work (PHMSW) at Canterbury Christ Church University has been working to tackle these rates by enhancing the training that student health visitors, school nurses and midwives receive to ensure they fully understand the level of care and support that mothers and their babies need to make an informed decision about whether or not to breastfeed.

Now, the School’s Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN) programme has been awarded with the internationally recognised Baby Friendly Initiative Award by UNICEF UK.

The UK Baby Friendly Initiative University Standards programme is aimed at university departments responsible for midwifery, health visitor and public health nurse education. Its purpose is to give newly qualified midwives and health visitors the basic knowledge and skills they need to support breastfeeding mothers and babies effectively.

Jane Arnott, Senior Lecturer in the School of PHMSW, said: “The journey to the accreditation of the Specialist Community Public Health Nursing programme has been a great privilege. Our students have fully engaged with the theoretical and practice components of the programme and the stories which have emerged about how they have supported mothers with breast feeding have been really heartening.

“I believe the successful accreditation is the icing on the cake for our programme and demonstrates how serious we are about improving public health outcomes.”

In 2009, Jane Arnott, and part-time Lecturer, also in the School of PHMSW, Gill Rapley, started to work towards achieving Baby Friendly status alongside expanding the SCPHN course in line with the government’s Health Visitor Implementation Plan which aimed to widen and strengthen health visiting services across the UK. And in 2014, the School received a £10,000 Health Visiting Transformation Fund grant to help support this work.

To achieve Baby Friendly status, the student health visitors were assessed to ensure that the mothers they will be supporting will be given useful and accurate information to help them initiate and sustain breastfeeding, and to build a strong relationship with their baby.

Gill Rapley said: “It’s exciting to be part of a team of people who are so enthusiastic about this work. Our next goal at is to obtain Baby Friendly accreditation for the Midwifery programme and to work with other course leaders, and the University itself, to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding throughout the organisation.”

The School has now set up a Kent-wide Infant Feeding Interest Group which invites public health leaders, maternity and community health services, breastfeeding leads in the voluntary sector and colleagues from across the University, including from the Research Centre for Children, Families and Communities and student midwives and health visitors, to discuss best practice and act as a mechanism to support ongoing improvements to the care offered to parents and babies.

Notes to Editor

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With almost 18,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.

*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 23:13:00