Better Care

Extra support for first-time Brum mums

extra support is available for expectant first-time mums in Birmingham.

Expectant first-time mums in Birmingham are to reap the benefits of additional support in the final weeks of pregnancy following the extension of the service provided by the city’s health visitors.

Every woman in Birmingham expecting her first child is to receive a home visit from a health visitor six to 10 weeks before the baby’s expected arrival.

Coming 28 to 34 weeks into pregnancy, the extended support will provide a critical opportunity to help first-time mothers prepare positively for parenthood and form a strong and secure bond with their child

It will also enable professionals to identify when extra support is needed for the family

Midwives will continue to provide antenatal care and the earlier health visitor engagement will complement that service.

Typically, first contact with a health visitor has been in the first 14 days after birth. Health visiting teams provide parents and carers of every child under the age of five with an essential source of advice and support until the child is old enough to start school.

They also carry out key routine checks on children’s physical and cognitive development at particular stages and can also provide additional advice on a wide range of issues that affect some but not all children, such as problems with sleeping, behaviour, feeding or toileting.

A three-month pilot antenatal programme is to begin in four areas of the city in September and, following evaluation, the pre-birth visit will be provided for all first-time mothers by March 2015.

The initiative is in response to national policy designed to improve the support available to parents and their children from pregnancy to age five. As part of this, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust is increasing the number of health visitors in the city by 120 as part of a national drive to recruit an additional 4,200 by 2015.

Birmingham Community Healthcare’s associate director for universal children’s services, Liz Webster said: “We are very pleased to provide this earlier health visitor contact as it will enable us to set in place a structured way of working with mothers and fathers during pregnancy and the immediate postnatal period, helping them to explore their readiness for parenthood and to make more informed decisions about their family’s needs.

“We look forward to hearing the views of both the new parents and the health visitors taking part in the initial pilot. This feedback will be invaluable in help us ensure the antenatal contact provides quality and flexibility in terms of its content and delivery so that we can best meet the needs of the many communities we serve.”