UNICEF praises Torbay and South Devon’s NHS for helping mums and babies

Published: 26 January 2023

Babies born in Torbay and South Devon are getting the best start in life thanks to the local maternity team.

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s maternity team started the year on a high after receiving glowing feedback from UNICEF, which has put them on track to be fully re-accredited with baby-friendly status.

The internationally-recognised UNICEF baby-friendly initiative is based on a set of standards for maternity, health visiting, neo-natal and children’s centre services and is designed to give parents the best possible care to help them build close and loving relationships with their baby, make informed choices about feeding, establish breastfeeding and help overcome any challenges they may experience.

It’s the second time in 3 years that the trust’s maternity team has received the award and during that time the service has transformed the way it provides care, including providing a breastfeeding masterclass in person and online, and maternity support workers visiting mums at home to provide face-to-face help and offering 1:1 sessions which focus on feeding and all aspects of baby care.

UNICEF inspectors visited the trust in November and spoke to mums about the help they had received before and after their child’s birth; 82% of mums who were asked said they were very happy with the care they received.

Infant feeding specialist midwife Carolan Grzesinski said: “I’m over the moon that our work to support families has been recognised by UNICEF. It’s important to us that families are supported to develop close and loving bonds with their baby, and our midwives and maternity support workers work really hard to make sure parents are happy and feel confident to feed their babies.

“Breastfeeding protects children from a range of illnesses including infection, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, obesity, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It also protects the mother from breast and ovarian cancers and heart disease. The UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, with 8 in 10 women stopping before they want to. Our maternity staff are all trained and passionate about supporting breastfeeding and helping families overcome any challenges. Parents can always contact our maternity team for support or contact us via our Facebook group NHS Infant Feeding Torbay.

“We also support parents who are formula feeding by providing information on safely making up feeds, responsive and paced feeding. First steps nutrition is a fantastic resource that formula feeding families can go to for evidence-based information that is fully protected from any commercial interest.”

First time mum Naomi Hagland, who lives in Torquay, was ‘blown away’ by the support she received after the birth of her son, Eric, at Torbay Hospital in August. She said: “My breastfeeding journey was challenging, but after attending the breastfeeding masterclass I felt well-equipped to navigate it. I learned many new skills which proved to be vital in the first few days of my baby’s life as he struggled with a poor latch. I battled with lots of problems due to this during the first 8 weeks, including mastitis, but there was always someone available to see me or speak to me. I was brought back onto the ward overnight and had incredibly dedicated staff supporting me with the feeding.

“I was determined breastfeed and the staff recognised it was important to me. Although it was very difficult at times, the support I had empowered me to persevere. I wouldn’t be successfully exclusively breastfeeding now without the staff who supported me every step of the way.”

The team now has its sights set on going for gold by improving the care they deliver and securing the Achieving Sustainability award.