A specialist unit that keeps babies with their mothers with severe mental health issues during the postpartum period has been accredited Gold by UNICEF.
The Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust (LSCft) Ribblemere Mother and Baby Unit (MBU), based at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, is the only such unit in the UK to have been awarded gold in as part of UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI).
Gold accreditation was awarded in conjunction with the Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families Service (LHYP&FS).
UNICEF’s Baby-Friendly initiative in the UK enables public services to better support families to feed each other and develop close, loving relationships so that all babies have the best possible start in life.
Working with the HCRG Care Group’s LHYP&S, LSCft addresses health inequities and advocates for babies and families when mothers experience mental health issues during the perinatal period.
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Ribblemere Mother and Baby Unit is an eight-bed inpatient facility for mothers with serious mental health issues or who may be at high risk for mental illness during the perinatal period, including life-threatening conditions such as postpartum psychosis .
The mother and baby unit allows for the treatment and recovery of mothers while allowing their relationships with their babies to develop.
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UNICEF evaluators pointed out that Ribblemere’s team, which is made up of a multidisciplinary team, is informing and helping to improve understanding so that mothers’ decisions about how they feed their babies are not undermined by misinformation or misunderstanding about medicines and breast milk.
The team shares this learning across the mental health system so that mothers get consistent information and guidance to make fully informed choices about treating mental health issues during the perinatal period.
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Guided by Baby-Friendly Initiative Leader Francine Goodier, the team is BFI-trained and able to provide the encouragement needed to fully support the feeding and care choices of every mom, who plays a important role in their recovery. They prioritize maintaining or restoring breastfeeding in accordance with the mother’s wishes.
All medications are carefully considered and the effect they may have on a mother’s choices as part of treatment and tailored individual care plans.
Gill Strachan, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist and Clinical Lead of the North West Coast Perinatal Mental Health Network, said: “It is wonderful to be recognized again in this way by UNICEF for person-centred care. that we give to our mothers and our babies.
“Our Gold standard care at Ribblemere means that babies of mothers with serious mental health conditions receive the same high standards of care as every baby born and cared for by an approved baby-friendly service in Lancashire and South Cumbria. .
“This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our multidisciplinary psychiatry, nursing and childcare team and we are very proud to continue to advocate for mothers, babies and families here at LSCft.”
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