24 March 2016

Breastfeeding rates in Sheffield are one of the highest in the country and the highest in Yorkshire, it has been revealed.

Over 80 per cent of new mothers in Sheffield breastfeed their babies according to 2014/15 rates. Now the city has been fully accredited with the prestigious Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund) Baby Friendly Initiative for Children’s Centres. This builds on joint accreditation three years ago for Sheffield City Council, the Heath Visiting Services and Midwifery – recognising Sheffield for the work it does to promote breastfeeding.

Sheffield is the only place in Yorkshire and Humber to have Children’s Centres accredited in this way. Shropshire and Belfast are the two other areas in the country which have similar status to Sheffield Children’s Centres.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, and City Infant Mortality (Breast Feeding) Champion said: “I would encourage all new mums and mums-to-be to breastfeed if they can. I did it with my children and I found it hugely rewarding. Not only is it great for babies, it has significant health benefits for mums, can help you lose weight and saves money too! This is such fantastic news for Sheffield! I’d like to thank all those services, staff and volunteers involved in helping our city to become Unicef Baby Friendly accredited.”

The Baby Friendly Initiative was set up by Unicef and the World Health Organisation and is a global programme aimed at providing a practical and effective way for local services to improve the care for mothers and babies, including enabling successful breastfeeding and supporting mums who bottle feed. The Award was given to Sheffield’s Children’s Centres after a Unicef team assessment recognised that best practice standards are in place.”

Councillor Drayton added: “We decided to join forces with Unicef UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative in partnership with colleagues from Health to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers in Sheffield Children’s Centre areas.”

Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director Sue Ashmore added: “We are delighted that Sheffield City Council’s Children’s Centres have achieved full Baby Friendly status. Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Mothers who go to Sheffield Children’s Centres can be confident that their breastfeeding peer support workers will provide high standards of care.”

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

On top of the health benefits it is also cheaper, easier and simply less hassle than bottle feeding.

Unicef officials are set to come to Sheffield on the 30th March to present Sheffield City Council with their award.