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Compassion for Mums Well-being schemeNew mums have welcomed the launch of 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, as many new mums can feel lonely, anxious or experience low mood.

The aim of Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s ‘Compassion for Mums Well-being’ scheme is to make locations in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, including cafes, museums and libraries, a place where every mum feels welcome to go to with their baby. 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.  Perinatal mental health affects up to 20 per cent of women during pregnancy and in their first year after giving birth.

By signing up to the scheme businesses and organisations can help show they welcome and support new mums and their families by displaying an easily recognisable Compassion for Mums Well-being sticker.  Organisations will also share information with their staff and volunteers about why taking part is important to support parent-infant wellbeing.

Mother-of-two Amy Harrison, aged 33, welcomed the launch of the scheme and said: “The Compassion for Mums Well-being scheme would have encouraged me to go out much earlier and meet other mums locally, which I didn’t have the confidence to do initially. I really struggled with two children for the first 12 months as I could never manage a double pram, two high chairs, feeding one and breast feeding another, changing areas, let alone eat anything myself. I sometimes found after returning from the toilet with them my table had been cleared by staff despite my pram and belongings still being there and it just wasn’t worth the hassle. A scheme like this where staff are encouraged to have empathy and an understanding would have really helped me and I’m sure other mums in a similar situation. I would definitely have done a search of local places for the identifiable sticker and would have planned to meet friends there as it would be a friendly and non-judgemental venue.”

Care Trust staff will offer short training sessions with organisations that are signed up to the scheme 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.  Advice and awareness during the training sessions includes:

  • Asking if a woman 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 woman 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: “I encourage our local businesses and communities to show their support, signing up only takes a minute and can make a real difference. We are also asking our mums to 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. The scheme gives businesses and community settings a simple way to support children’s health and help reduce isolation which can be a real challenge for new parents.”

New mum Kelly Gillbert, aged 34, said she hasn’t always felt comfortable going out with her baby daughter, Aria, in public, feeling anxious and isolated, but the new scheme will give her more confidence and encouragement to go out knowing there are supportive places in the community where she would feel welcomed.

Elaborating further Kelly said: “Being a mum is hard work, but being a first-time mum is even harder, you have no idea what to expect or how people are going to react to you and your baby in different environments. The first experience I had of going out with Aria was not pleasant. It took me ages to venture out with Aria alone after that. If there had of been designated places in Bradford and the surrounding areas I would have felt much more comfortable about heading out with Aria. Being a new mum can be extremely lonely and it is so important to get out and about with your baby, but it is also important that you feel safe and comfortable in doing so.

“Knowing that you could go somewhere where the staff are kind and compassionate towards mum’s takes away one of the stresses. Also, these designated places are likely to become hubs for mums which is likely to lead to new “mum friendships” which can only be a good thing.”

Mother-of-two Helen Lynskey, aged 43, said: “I was struggling with anxiety and very low confidence that affected where I felt able to take my baby and toddler. Having a scheme such as Compassion for Mum’s Well-being would have really benefited me and my children, as it would have given me extra reassurance that the place offered a bit of a safety net and was looking out for me.”

Mother of two, Claire Hill, aged 35, added: “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….”

Jo Jones, Community Perinatal Nursery Nurse at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Signing up is easy, email compassionformumswell-being@bdct.nhs.uk to register your interest and join the scheme or to nominate a venue. All venues that sign up 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 ‘compassion for mums’ well-being’ venues.”