WORK boosting the number of mums in North Kirklees who are breastfeeding babies has been hailed by UNICEF.
Figures show the proportion has nearly doubled over the seven years of a Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust project.
In 2007, only 32 per cent of new mums were breastfeeding babies across the trust area.
This includes the soon-to-be downgraded maternity unit at Dewsbury District Hospital, plus Pinderfields in Wakefield and Pontefract Hospital.
Health chiefs therefore joined UNICEF’s UK Baby Friendly Initiative in a bid to get that figure up.
Action taken included the creation of a baby café at the Staincliffe and Healey SureStart Centre in Batley.
Other steps involved staff training and putting 200 volunteers on wards or in the community to help mothers breastfeed.
Now some 61 per cent of new mums breastfeed and 19 per cent are still doing so after six months.
As a result UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, has granted the trust ‘Baby Friendly’ status.
It is a standard held by a quarter of all hospital trusts in the UK following an assessment by UNICEF officials.
The baby café in Batley boasts peer-led support from other mums who have breastfeeding experience.
Mum Helen Leuty recently finished a 10-week course there to become a counsellor.
She had problems feeding her son Rafael, now 19 months old, but was helped at the baby café.
Helen said: “They were fantastic. It was their support that made me want to train to become a breastfeeding supporter and help other mums.”
Mid Yorkshire’s breastfeeding co-ordinator Rachel Hauser said: “We have a holistic approach to support with informed feeding.
"We have well-trained staff and that includes a healthcare assistant right up to a senior midwife who have the same training out in the community.
“Nursery nurses, staff nurses, anyone who comes into contact with mums and babies, is baby friendly.”