Swanswell cautiously welcomes drinks company plans for Midwives

13 June 2011

Swanswell’s cautiously welcoming news that a drinks producer is providing around£4 million pounds of funding for a national health initiative around alcohol and pregnancy.

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is reacting to Diageo’s plans to pay for 10,000 midwives to be trained to offer advice on the dangers of drinking when pregnant (BBC News).

Training in this instance will be run by the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome UK (NoFAS).

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘While we do have some concerns that a drinks company is funding training like this, we welcome the fact that millions of pounds is being used to highlight the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.

However, it’s essential that the advice given to expectant mothers is independent from the drinks industry to ensure that a clear and consistent approach is taken with the best interests of mother and child at heart at all times.

Our advice would be to not drink at all during pregnancy to avoid any risk of alcohol-related complications – although expectant mothers shouldn’t panic if they have had small amounts of alcohol before now.’

Swanswell already recognises the importance of midwives and health visitors in providing advice to pregnant mothers.

Earlier this year, the national charity began a training programme in Coventry to help health staff give advice about drinking when pregnant – as well as helping to identify anyone affected by alcohol misuse.

Debbie added: ‘We know that Midwives and health visitors are very good at engaging with pregnant women and our training will help them identify how substance misuse can impact on an individuals’ health and that of their unborn baby.

If it’s identified early in pregnancy, there is a greater chance of improved health for mother and child.

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