In the run up to Mother’s Day, Sunday 22 March, a scheme, which encourages businesses and community settings to provide a welcoming and friendly environment for women who have recently given birth to go to, and their partners, is going from strength to strength and is helping to combat social isolation and improve emotional wellbeing for new parents.
The initiative, originally known as the ‘Compassion for Mums Well-being’ scheme, has been renamed ‘Compassion for Parents and Babies Well-being’ scheme to reflect the equally important role men play in the upbringing of their children, whilst also recognising that being a new parent can be a challenging experience, both emotionally and physically, for both mums and dads, if people don’t have a support network of friends around them going through similar experiences.
A number of local business across locations in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, including cafes, museums and libraries, have signed up to Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Compassion for Parents and Babies Well-being’ scheme after discovering that many new parents can often feel lonely, anxious or experience low mood.
Mums and dads have welcomed the support of these local organisations as many women feel nervous about going out in public with their babies and may choose not to, leading to social isolation and impacting negatively on their emotional wellbeing. The scheme aims to promote places where every parent feels welcome to go to with their baby.
Mother of two, Claire Hill, said: “Maternity leave can be extremely lonely, having a baby is a complete lifestyle change and when all your friends are working and socialising, you can feel isolated and left behind. I think with schemes like this, where organisations promote that they support the initiative, it would give reassurance to mums that they’re in a ‘safe’ place and who knows, they may even meet someone in the same boat along the way….”
Businesses and organisations that have signed up to the scheme are helping to show they welcome and support new mums, dads and their families by displaying an easily recognisable Compassion for Parents and Babies Well-being sticker. Organisations have also been sharing information with their staff and volunteers about why taking part is important to support parent-infant wellbeing.
Since the scheme launched in 2019, the initiative has been credited with bringing new mums and dads out of isolation, helping them meet other local parents, and integrating mothers and fathers into community settings with their babies, whilst improving their confidence and self-esteem.
Lynsey Love from Sweaty Mama Leeds North West – pre and post-natal fitness organisation, has signed up to the scheme and said: “I’m committed to helping more and more mums and parents across the local area feel safe, excepted, supported and loved. We’re thrilled to be part of the scheme, which is doing such wonderful work across the local community and beyond. Driving change in maternal and paternal mental health and well-being, and supporting many new parents in need.”
By signing up to the scheme, businesses and organisations will be offered short training sessions by Care Trust staff to help raise awareness of how they can offer warmth and compassion to mums during the perinatal period, for what can be a challenging time. Perinatal mental health affects up to 20 per cent of women during pregnancy and in their first year after giving birth.
Advice and awareness during the training sessions also include:
- Asking if a mum/dad needs practical help during their time in the building, for example holding the door open to help access or carry drinks to table. Asking if a mum/dad needs practical help during their time in the building, for example holding the door open to help access or carry drinks to table.
- Giving someone time and space if needed when ordering food/ drink.
- Genuinely ask if the mum/dad is okay.
- Sometimes babies communicate by crying – be kind and patient.
Lisa Milne, Clinical Lead for Perinatal Mental Health at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Maternal mental well-being is best supported by communities and services coming together to support families. The Compassion for Parents and Babies well-being project has been warmly welcomed by all sorts of services and organisations. People are interested in understanding more about maternal mental health and are recognising the importance of treating new parents with kindness. Parents can nominate places where they feel relaxed in the local area and we will get in touch with the places to encourage them to join the scheme.”
For further details on how to sign up to the scheme visit www.bdct.nhs.uk/compassion-for-parents-and-babies-well-being-scheme. All venues that join will receive a sticker to display in their door or window to show they are part of the scheme, they will also be included on the ‘Compassion for Parents and Babies’ venues map.