A HOSPITAL that is enjoying a baby boom has just won a prestigious award.

Whiston Hospital Maternity Unit is the only unit in the region to be given the Baby Friendly Award by UNICEF underlining the fact that it is the first choice birthplace noted for its brilliant facilities.

Since April 2010, a total of 14,486 babies have been born at Whiston Hospital, 7.426 male and 7,060 female.

A spokesman for St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Births have increased by around 20% since the new hospital opened in 2010, with more mothers choosing to deliver their babies in the world-class facilities available, under the expert care of award-winning obstetric and midwifery staff.”

The Baby Friendly Award is the latest international recognition for the expert care and services provided at the hospital. Units must undergo a rigorous assessment that recognises that best practice standards are consistently achieved.

The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to further improve the care provided for all mothers and babies.

In Britain the BFI works with public services to promote, and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships.

The number of mothers breast feeding has increased and the Trust offers help and support to all expectant and new mothers and encourages them to breast feed.

Trust chief executive Ann Marr said: “This is a significant achievement by the maternity and neonatal services.

"To achieve full accreditation from UNICEF took a lot of hard work and is a major achievement for the Trust.

"The results are evidence of the time and care the midwives give each and every day helping mothers to get started with breastfeeding.”