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Wexham Park Hospital has successfully completed the first step towards becoming a fully accredited ‘Baby Friendly’ institution.

The hospital’s maternity team has passed the Stage 1 assessment in the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI), a global programme set up by Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In the UK, the initiative aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships. Support for these relationships is important for all babies, not only those who are breastfed.

Debra Sloam, midwife and infant feeding advisor at Wexham Park Hospital, said: “This is a really important initiative to be part of.

“Breastfeeding protects babies from illnesses like gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in their early days and months as well as diabetes and obesity in later life. It also reduces the risk for mothers of developing certain cancers, so the benefits for both mum and baby are huge.

“Not only are there positives for health, but emotional bonding is often made easier when a mother chooses to breastfeed.”

To pass the Stage 1 assessment, Wexham Park Hospital had to prove that it has the right policies, training and environment in place to deliver the BFI standards. There are three stages to complete before full accreditation, which Wexham Park hopes to achieve in 2021.

Kerrie Tipper, also an infant feeding specialist midwife at Wexham Park Hospital, said: “Most women now want to breastfeed their babies.

“We want to support women during their pregnancy to recognise the important role breastfeeding has in developing early relationships and in supporting the health and wellbeing of their baby. We also want to help mums get breastfeeding off to a good start once their baby is born.”

Wexham Park’s sister hospital, Frimley Park, has already been granted full ‘Baby Friendly’ status and was reaccredited in 2015, proving that staff at the hospital have maintained the highest standards demanded by Unicef’s assessors under the BFI programme.