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11 May 2010, 05:00
NHS Bedfordshire and NHS Luton are to host a breastfeeding event to celebrate their achievements in encouraging new mothers in the county to start breast feeding and supporting them to continue.
The event will take place at the Rufus Centre in Steppingley from 2pm – 5pm (Tuesday 11th May).
Guest speakers at the event include the Department of Health’s regional lead for breastfeeding, Jacqui Featherstone, who will be awarding local mothers who have qualified as breastfeeding peer supporters or support workers.
With a further 22 helpers expected to qualify in the summer, they will be volunteering to help at breastfeeding support groups and baby cafés across Bedfordshire. They will also work alongside health professionals in the vital work they do in supporting mothers and babies with breastfeeding.
Sue Ashmore, director of UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative will also be speaking at the event, which will be attended by approximately 150 people from local Children’s Centres, Primary Care Trusts, Hospitals and local mothers.
One mother has already qualified as a helper and will be speaking about her experiences with this role and on why she wanted to help other mothers to breast feed.
Bedfordshire Community Health Services (BCHS) will also be celebrating after achieving a Certificate of Commitment and a Stage one accreditation for UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation.
Luton Community Services are working hard towards their Stage Two Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation.
Jacky Syme, UNICEF Baby Friendly Co-ordinator for Bedfordshire Community Health Services, said: "Breastfeeding plays a crucially important part in improving the health of mothers and babies.
"We are hearing all the time about new research showing more benefits of breastfeeding and are doing all we can to get the message out there to expectant parents in the area."
Last year NHS Bedfordshire met its annual target for breastfeeding uptake at 6 to 8 weeks after birth, with 41% of mothers choosing to breastfeed. Next year the target, set by NHS East of England and Department of Health, will rise to 52%.
Bedford Hospital has recorded a breastfeeding initiation rate of 77% at birth.
Luton Community Services have also seen a significant increase in mums continuing to breastfeed their babies for up to 2 months after birth over the past year. Their latest statistics show that almost 6 out of 10 mums are still breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks.