Login | Text size A A A | Text version

Our blog

Learning, sharing best practice and cake: The UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative Annual Conference
Post date: 27 Jan 2016

There’s a lot in the news at the moment about breastfeeding and healthy eating, both of which are important issues in the world of health visiting and new parenthood! With that in mind, our infant feeding coordinator in the health visiting team has shared her experience attending the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Annual Conference. Providing high levels of care and support for new parents and their babies can be greatly enhanced by sharing best practice with others working in similar specialist services across the country, and conferences are an excellent way of finding out about new research findings and being inspired by success stories. Here’s Wendy to explain all she found out at the conference: Beverley, Jo and Wendy at UNICEF conference

Hi, I'm Wendy Brownrigg, infant feeding coordinator in the health visiting team at Medway Community Healthcare (MCH). 

At the end of last year I was fortunate enough to attend the annual UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Conference in Harrogate, Yorkshire with two colleagues: the midwifery infant feeding coordinator and the Public Health breastfeeding peer support coordinator. Medway Public Health Directorate (within Medway Council), provided funding for us to go in recognition of our collaborative work for the cross-organisational infant feeding strategy here in Medway. The Baby Friendly Initiative is an accreditation process supporting maternity and community services to provide excellent standards of care for pregnant women, new mothers and young families. Its focus is on early relationship building for all parents, provision of breastfeeding support and promotion of safe formula feeding.

To give you some background, MCH’s health visiting service, together with Medway children’s centres, is well on its way to achieving the final stage of the accreditation process for the Baby Friendly Initiative. It’s a highly regarded international award, and acknowledgement of the hard work by health visitors and children’s centre staff over the years to increase their knowledge and skills and provide valued services to infants, new mothers and young families. Medway Foundation Trust midwives are working hard to achieve their own accreditation, and inter-professional working has been fundamental to all our successes.

Learning in action

Early relationship building, attachment and neuro social evolution made for fascinating presentations by Robin Grille, an Australian psychologist and parenting educator. Dr Matthew Hyde discussed his research on the association between caesarean section, breastfeeding and potential for obesity. The importance of early relationships and parent baby attunement for infant brain development was the focus of the presentation by Dr Zoe Brownlie, a clinical psychologist. We also heard of the inspiring work at Exeter neonatal unit to provide a more parent-friendly environment for families, making changes to long established ward practices and actively enabling frequent skin contact between parents and their babies. We were also introduced to the newly developed Baby Friendly Initiative advanced award, a means by which accredited organisations can sustain progress and build on achievements.

However I think my favourite session, and a resounding favourite for everyone attending the conference was the collection of poetry written and recited by Hollie McNish, a refreshing young poet using inspirational words to express her experiences of childbirth and parenthood, taken from her book ‘nobody told me’. If you do nothing else please listen to ‘Wow’ on YouTube, and delight in the joy of a child and her mother discovering truth in the female body. Hollie brought the house down!

A spot of tea

Of course no trip to Harrogate is complete without a visit to Betty’s Tea Rooms, and this we did before boarding our train south - an extremely civilised (and delicious) way to end a very enjoyable couple of days. We each returned inspired by our experience, reinvigorated from the company of those working towards the same goals, and raring to tackle the challenges ahead.
There are no comments for this blog.