Pregnancy and the first 1001 days in a baby’s life are a significant time for parents – change, new skills, new concerns, new pressures. Family Hubs’ priority is to engage with families during this time, to ensure that all families are aware of the support available and to engage with those parents who may benefit from additional, targeted support.
The Family Hubs in Stockton-on-Tees are a good example of how ante and post-natal services are delivered within Family Hubs. Kellie Wigley, Community and Partnership Manager, explains:
‘Family Hubs provide a local, informal and welcoming environment. By hosting midwifery and health visitor ante-natal and post-natal appointments in our hubs, expectant and new parents become familiar with Family Hubs, which become the obvious place for them to seek further advice and support. Similarly, through those incidental conversations with families as they access these services, Family Hub staff are well positioned to reach out and engage with families to ensure their children have the best possible start in life.
We offer a range of services and courses:
- Early bird information session: expectant parents can be referred to this session at their pregnancy booking-in appointment. The session informs parents about what to expect during the pregnancy
- Parentcraft sessions: preparing parents for birth. As well as hosting the course, Family Hub staff participate in some sessions to inform parents about the Hub offers post birth
- Ante-natal nurturing programme: for new or anxious mums, at 24+ weeks of pregnancy, to help them prepare and know what to expect. This programme supports parents with particular needs such as those who have lost previous children or those who are teenage parents.
- Relaxation groups: for all parents not just ante-natal, offering six weeks of mindfulness. Midwives can refer expectant mothers to this programme which prioritises a healthy mind, and therefore a calmer pregnancy and long-term benefits too
- Post-natal health drop-in service: delivered by the Harrogate District Foundation Trust, where parents can ask questions and receive Health Visitor support
- Breastfeeding groups delivered by health professionals
- Solihull health programme: the hub parenting adviser co-delivers this 6-week programme with health colleagues covering the realities of parenting e.g. sleeplessness, weaning, and other advice and support. Parents bring their babies to the group so that behaviours can be modelled. Parents build their social network through this programme, creating local support embedded in the community
- Peri-natal group for mums with mental health challenges. This group works particularly well in the comfortable, non-judgemental environment of a Family Hub and ensures mums are more receptive to engaging with other services, such as baby massage and yoga and make links for the future
- Stay and play: led by volunteers, these sessions were introduced when our hubs’ were Sure Start children’s centres and they continue to be a valued service for families
- Baby massage and yoga courses: these courses have wide appeal and enable the hubs to reach and engage with those who may not be experiencing parenting challenges but may have other problems such as domestic abuse, drug or substance misuse and depression
- Virtual parenting courses: during lockdown we offered some of our parenting programmes online and we observed that our reach and engagement with dads increased using this platform so we will continue to explore the opportunities using virtual delivery platforms’