A GLASGOW maternity hospital has become the first in Scotland to achieve Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative status for its neonatal unit.

The unit at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital (PRMH) achieved the status for its care of the most vulnerable babies and their families.

Anne Tainsh from Unicef joined staff and families at the unit to present the certificate confirming the award.

The Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) supports parents to have close and loving relationships with their pre-term or sick baby by enabling them to touch, talk and care for their babies as well as supporting skin to skin contact and responsive feeding.

It values parents as partners in care, with 24-hour access to their babies and aims for parents to be seen as the primary care givers.

This has led to the unit’s clinical staff providing specialised care, while acting as teachers and supporters to parents as they learn to look after for their baby.

Staff work with parents to help babies to receive breast milk and to breastfeed when possible.

This includes discussing with parents the value of breast milk for premature and sick babies’ current and future health as well as development.

Gillian Bowker, NHSGGC’s Neonatal infant feeding advisor, said: “It’s a wonderful achievement to be the country’s first neonatal unit to be recognised by Unicef in this way.

“Each year in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, around one in 10 babies are admitted to neonatal units, having been born sick or premature.

"Around 600 are cared for at the Princess Royal Maternity alone.

“These babies are very vulnerable and frequently face serious challenges to their health and development.

"The parent-child relationship and breast milk feeding are vitally important to give these babies the best possible start in life.

“Our aim is to have a culture which supports parents to be primary care givers and nurture them in their role as parents within the neonatal unit.

"We have had great feedback from families saying they feel much more confident caring for their baby both in the neonatal unit and when discharged home.

“This culture change has been embraced by every member of the team and we’re extremely proud to be the first unit in Scotland - and only the fifth in the UK - to achieve this award.”

Minister for Public Health Aileen Campbell said: “This highly acclaimed award recognises the dedication and hard work of staff in the neonatal unit at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow.

"To become the first neonatal unit in the country to receive this UNICEF accreditation is a great accomplishment, and all those involved should be very proud of what they are doing to help premature babies, and new parents during what can be a difficult time for many.”