26 July 2018
Gillian Bowker is the Neonatal Infant Feeding Adviser for the NHS Glasgow and Greater Clyde, and, in our eyes, a bit of a breastfeeding guru. We were thrilled when she agreed to be the face of our World Breastfeeding Week campaign, sharing hints and tips for parents with babies in the neonatal unit.
We met Gillian through her work with the Helping Us Grow Group (HUGG) based in the neonatal unit at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, but she also supports families at the Princess Royal Neonatal Unit and the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley. All three hospitals hold some level of the UNICEF Baby Friendly accreditation, with both Glasgow units, RHC NNU and PRM NNU, having achieved stage 3, full Baby Friendly accreditation. This is thanks to the tireless work of Gillian and her team. In fact, the Princess Royal Neonatal Unit was the first neonatal unit in the whole of Scotland to be recognised by UNICEF and receive accreditation.
UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative
For those who don’t know, the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative was established to help support new parents and allow them to give their babies the best start in life. They work to “support all families to develop close and loving relationships with their newborn and to understand the importance of this for their baby’s development”. Essentially, they work to empower new mums to breastfeed, where possible, engage in skin to skin contact and build relationships between them and their baby and be partners with health professionals in all areas of their baby’s care. Check out this amazing set of breastfeeding resources provided by Unicef.
Gillian presented the work of the Helping Us Grow Group, which is a fabulous example of how Family Integrated Care can work in a neonatal unit, alongside Dr Neil Patel at the Baby Friendly Annual Conference 2017. She also created a ‘Breastfeeding Assessment Tool for Neonatal Babies’ which is now an official baby friendly document for others to work from.
Gillian also established and leads two of the Helping Us Grow Group Family Awareness sessions, ‘Transition to Breastfeeding’ and ‘Expressing Milk’.
When she’s not supporting families across Scotland, she is busy raising three children of her own. Gillian, we salute you!