Midwifery academic wins regional award

Dr Helen McIntyre, Associate Professor in Midwifery (left) receives her award from Sue MacDonald, Midwife Consultant and Educationalist

Dr Helen McIntyre – Associate Professor in Midwifery - has won a regional award for embedding best practice in infant feeding within midwifery education to improve maternal and infant health.   

She clinched the Midwife Education Trailblazer Award at the Midlands Maternity and Midwifery Festival held at the King Power Stadium last month (16 May). The Trailblazer Awards recognise outstanding achievement over the past year across the Midlands. 

Helen is the UNICEF-UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) Lead for the Master in Science (MSci) Midwifery with Leadership programme at the University of Leicester. 

Her nomination said that she was a “tireless leader” who had shown courage and determination in helping the new Midwifery programme achieve UNICEF-UK BFI accreditation. It called her an “inspiration” for her knowledge and “ongoing positive adaptations to the University and to clinical placement,” including the introduction of infant feeding rooms and a monthly infant feeding café on campus to support parents and create an inclusive space.

Helen's nomination added that she had been instrumental in building knowledge and natural conversational approaches to supporting infant feeding in clinical practice and had adopted all learning styles using spoken discussion, open questions, planned assessments, written quizzes and created condensed trigger guides for the BFI Accreditation material from evidence-based standards. 

A delighted Helen was presented her award by Sue Macdonald – Chair and Curator of the Midwifery Festival Conferences and weekly Midwifery Hour.

She said: “I want to give a big thank you to the academic team. It’s wonderful to be recognised in this way but it really is a team effort. A big shout out to the students who were assessed and commended for their knowledge, skills and their women centred approach to care. Well done. 

“I look forward to strengthening the importance of optimal feeding of infants, relationship building and improved outcomes through skin-to-skin research and further adopting UNICEF philosophies of care.” 

Congratulating Helen on receiving her award, Professor Jayne Marshall, Lead Midwife for Education and Deputy Head of the School of Healthcare, said: “It is great that Helen’s leadership and expertise in infant feeding has been recognised through the Regional Trailblazer Award, of which she should be very proud. 

“To achieve the UNICEF-UK BFI accreditation for universities with Helen’s support in just four years of the midwifery programme’s inception is fantastic and acknowledges that the University of Leicester has demonstrated it is implementing best practice in breastfeeding / infant feeding training. As a result of this, midwifery staff and students having passed a thorough external assessment by UNICEF UK staff.” 

The Baby Friendly Initiative provides a template for universities to give their students a strong foundation of knowledge to support all mothers with feeding and help parents build a close and loving relationship with their baby while improving healthcare outcomes.