St John’s Hospital on track for Baby Friendly Status

St John’s Hospital is on track to receive an international award for its innovative work in breastfeeding.

Maternity staff at the West Lothian hospital are on the way to collecting the coveted UNICEF Baby Friendly status for their commitment to improving the lifelong health of mums and babies.

It will become one 14 centres of excellence in Scotland dedicated to promoting and encouraging more women to breastfeed and in turn give children the best start in life.

Breast milk is known to help protect mums and babies from a variety of illnesses. And women and their babies born in St John’s are already experiencing the benefits of the programme.

Rates of breastfeeding have soared by up to six per cent on last year and NHS Lothian midwives and mums are working together to aim even higher.

Specially trained midwives at St John’s teach women the importance of skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth to encourage baby to feed.

Then they ensure that tots are allowed to stay with their mums 24 hours a day while in hospital to strengthen and reinforce the bond between the two. Each woman is also shown the most effective and pain-free feeding techniques.

Maria Wilson, Chief Midwife of NHS Lothian, said:


“Mothers and babies are already feeling the benefits because we are helping them to feed their babies the way they want to feed them.
“The benefits of breastfeeding will be explained to new mums, but for a variety of reasons it can still be difficult. Therefore we want to support women through the challenges and prevent them from taking the decision to stop.”
NHS Lothian has developed a strategy to promote breastfeeding and has appointed infant feeding adviser, Karla Napier, as well as a dedicated adviser at St John’s, Melissa Kallat, to ensure a better experience for women and newborns.
They said they are working towards the prestigious award in partnership to make St John’s care some of the best in the country.


Karla added:
“Women are asking us for this help and the West Lothian model is excellent because it involves the hospital, the council, public health and university.”


A special drop-in clinic to help women who are having difficulties breastfeeding or just need extra support will be created at St John’s as well as a buddy scheme for newly trained midwives.
It follows work done at the Simpson’s Maternity unit in Edinburgh which achieved full Baby Friendly status seven years ago.