Student midwives studying at the University of Salford have been awarded record marks in examinations for the United Nations International Children¹s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Baby Friendly accreditation.
The students gained a collective mark of 93% overall, the highest mark ever received in the examinations by a UK institution. Salford was first accredited by the Baby Friendly Initiative University Standards programme in 2012. This programme is intended to support breastfeeding and enhance the relationship between parents and infants. This is done by improving the standard of care provided by midwives, through high quality education and training.
Anne Leyland, lecturer in midwifery at the University of Salford, said: 'Our teaching starts with the basics at the start of the course, and moves onto more complex issues around infant-feeding that midwives may encounter. We also provide a lot of education around standards and practices in regard to breastfeeding, and we use actors and actresses to help students practice having open ended conversations with mothers. So it Is not just about technical skills, it is a holistic approach to breast feeding.'
The examinations were taken as a result of UNICEF introducing new standards for universities to meet to retain their Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation. The Baby Friendly Initiative was launched in the UK in 1994. The standards needed for accreditation were revised in 2012. The new standards require midwives to demonstrate competence in supporting mothers to breastfeed, make informed decisions about the introduction of solid foods, and educate women about the importance of breastfeeding.
Ms Leyland added: 'We now have other universities, who are also seeking the same accolade, coming to us for advice on how we conduct our teaching so that they can transfer our skills to their own, and that speaks volumes as it shows the qualities of our course are being recognised by our peers.'