Implementing the Baby Friendly standards in universities
The Baby Friendly Initiative University Standards programme is an accreditation programme aimed at university departments responsible for midwifery and health visitor/public health nurse education.
It was developed to ensure that newly qualified midwives and health visitors are equipped with the basic knowledge and skills they need to support breastfeeding effectively.
Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation is awarded to an individual course, not to the university itself. Universities are welcome to apply for accreditation for each of the courses they provide for the training of midwives or health visitors/public health nurses.
Please note that our university standards were recently reviewed. Revised learning outcomes and guidance on implementing the revised standards are available to download, along with transition guidance on moving from the old to the new standards. A new audit tool for universities has been published to support university programmes working towards the standards.
An increasing number of universities are now seeing the benefits of achieving Unicef UK Baby Friendly accreditation for their midwifery or health visitor/public health nurse programmes:
- It helps to raise the profile of universities, both with the Trusts who commission their services and with students deciding where to apply.
- Both Acute and Community Healthcare Trusts clearly benefit from having students on placements who have been through a Baby Friendly accredited training programme since they will learn and practice more effectively in their practical placements.
- The processes required to ensure successful accreditation assist with the development of good links with the practice placement areas, and in particular with the training and development of practice mentors.
- Raising the profile of infant feeding enables it to be given a strong focus within the programme. Greater clarity regarding the issues which need to be addressed emerge and for those involved with student midwife education, implementing the Baby Friendly learning outcomes will assist with meeting the NMC skills clusters requirements.
- For lecturers, the opportunity to focus on infant feeding and assess and address any learning needs enhances confidence and focus.
- And for the students, their confidence in supporting mothers increases as does their employability as Trusts recognise the benefit of engaging staff who do not need further infant feeding training.
Lecturers from accredited universities were asked to identify the key benefits of Baby Friendly accreditation. Some of their comments are below.
“Its a good marketing tool – something you can show off about to prospective students and to the Trusts.”
“Its makes the course more attractive to students.”
“It leads to greater employability for students – Trusts like employing staff they don’t have to train again.”
“Trusts value Baby Friendly accreditation and they understand what it means.”
“It ensures that agreed standards are met.”
“Its good for the lecturers as it supports their personal development in teaching infant feeding”
“It makes it easier for the lecturers to ensure that the students are fit for practice”
“Help us to build better working relationships with Trusts.”
“Enables better input hours for breastfeeding.”
“Our students are much more confident when discussing and teaching breastfeeding.”
“Its helped increase the profile for breastfeeding across the university.”