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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the latest big name to lend their support to a pioneering initiative by Dorset HealthCare to encourage more women to breastfeed.
The Trust’s Breastfeeding Advisory Team recently produced a range of posters featuring local mums with their babies in their own homes, coupled with slogans that offer a ‘softer’, more positive message that women can relate to.
And their impact has been staggering, with more than 24,300 shares within the first two days of their release on the Breastfeeding Network’s official Facebook page, which has seen them viewed across America.
They’ve also been downloaded more than 3,000 times from the Dorset HealthCare website.
And now one of the biggest humanitarian organisations has joined the crusade, with UNICEF planning to showcase them at their annual Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) conference in Liverpool in November, where they will be presented to more than 700 delegates from across the globe.
They have also shared them in the latest edition of their renowned newsletter.
UNICEF is a United Nations program that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.
Trust Breastfeeding Advisory Lead Liz Stacey said: “I have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback the posters have received. The strap lines offer a realistic insight into breastfeeding by mothers for mothers.
“They can act as a catalyst for discussing any concerns a new mum may have regarding her breastfeeding journey with a health professional. Mothers should feel proud of their achievements as it is not always easy.”
This high-profile recognition is well timed, as this week is National Breastfeeding Awareness Week – promoting the role that all healthcare professionals, commissioners and managers have in supporting mothers to take up and continue breastfeeding for at least the first six months of their baby’s life.
And it continues the hugely positive reaction the posters have received, both home and abroad.
Liz and her team travelled to the Houses of Parliament earlier in the year to present them to MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Infant Feeding and Inequalities, which works to improve policies and break down stigma around the issue.
The posters have also been featured in recent study days held by the Institute of Health Visiting, the Royal Society for Public Health Breastfeeding, the Breastfeeding Network and the Royal Society of Medicine.
They formed an integral part of the Scottish Breastfeeding Celebrations Week earlier this month, and were included in a presentation by a professor at a public health conference in Australia.
Dr Cheryl Adams CBE, Executive Director at the Institute of Health Visiting, said: “This is a shining example of fantastic innovation.
“The posters are so impactful and make breastfeeding look like a club you want to join. The messaging and images they possess are so warm and appealing, so it’s not surprising they are having such a positive effect.”
Bournemouth resident Caroline Blake is one of the mums featured in the campaign. She struggled to breastfeed her son Jack at first, and was told by many health professionals she may have missed her chance.
“I felt extremely guilty and a bit of a failure as a mother, but Jack and I persevered and three weeks later we cracked it, but I know many mums in my situation might have given up and continued to feel disheartened.
“I guess I wanted to be involved in this campaign to show that whether you breastfeed for just a day or a week, you haven’t failed – just keep trying. It’s a learning curve for both you and your child.
“Breastfeeding is an amazing thing and creates a bond between mother and baby, and I think the messaging on the posters helps bridge the gap between reality and expectation.”
The posters are on display in clinics, GP surgeries, children’s centres and maternity units across Dorset, and are available to download for free at www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/breastfeeding-posters