A SERVICE helping Forth Valley women has maintained its strong track record in offering breastfeeding support.

NHS Forth Valley’s Community Health Visiting Services has maintained its UNICEF Baby Friendly Award accreditation following a detailed assessment.

The team, which passed with flying colours, recently marked the achievement with a celebratory event coinciding with Scottish Breastfeeding Week.

The Baby Friendly initiative, set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies.

Dr Jillian Taylor, chief nurse for Children’s Services in NHS Forth Valley, said: “Achieving our UNICEF Baby Friendly reaccreditation is a fantastic achievement which reflects the hard work, care and commitment of our amazing team of health visitors, infant feeding advisors and local volunteers.

“The team offers practical and emotional support to enable local women across Forth Valley to help them feel more confident and comfortable to breastfeed.

“This support and encouragement is having a real impact on local women and is also helping to improve local breastfeeding rates.”

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In the UK, the Baby Friendly initiative works with public services to protect, promote and support breastfeeding while strengthening mother-baby and family relationships.

The award is given to health facilities, hospitals and universities after an assessment by a UNICEF team has shown that recognised best practice standards are in place.

NHS Forth Valley explained that breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life.

Breastfeeding also reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers.