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New support for parents-to-be with anxiety and depression

New support for parents-to-be with anxiety and depression

Wednesday 12 June 2019

New support for parents-to-be with anxiety and depression


A children's charity is launching a new service to help parents-to-be cope with low mood, worry or stress ahead of welcoming a newborn into the world.

The NSPCC's 'Pregnancy in Mind' programme will be offered at the Gower Centre to all parents-to-be who are at risk, or already experiencing mild to moderate anxiety or depression during the pregnancy.

Offered on an eight-week rolling basis between 12 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, the service aims to help parents feel confident in their parenting skills so they can provide responsive care and create a family environment that meets their child’s developmental needs.

It also aims to provide support the parents by helping them strengthen relationships as well as give them the knowledge and skills to better cope with any difficulties they are experiencing. 

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Pictured: Sally Walker, Sara McCarthy and Laura Dicker.

Sally Walker, Sara McCarthy and Laura Dicker will be running the programme through a two-hour weekly group session for up to 10 people that looks at mindfulness, active relaxation, and awareness raising of foetal development.

Selina Winter, Team Manager for NSPCC Jersey, said the charity was thrilled to be offering the service to expectant parents. “For many new parents, pregnancy is a joyful time, however it can also be a time of great physical, psychological, financial and practical change," she added.

“The programme will allow us to use all of our experience and skills from successfully running and upscaling the Baby Steps service, which has been taken on by Family Nursing and Health Care, to support parents early on in their pregnancies.”

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Pictured: Laura and Will Stubbs with their son Alfie.

The service has already been tried and tested by the NSPCC in the UK, where it has proven popular with expectant mums and dads, who say they have benefited from hearing from others with similar experiences.

Leeds resident Laura Stubbs (33) was referred to the programme by a midwife after complications with her pregnancy led her to feel "immense anxiety" that she was going to lose her baby. 

“The anxiety was making it so incredibly hard," she explained. "I felt like I was in a place where I could barely talk about being pregnant without feeling upset and anxious.There was nothing my husband or family could say that could make me feel better. I just felt that something awful was going to happen to the baby."

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Pictured: Complications with Laura's pregnancy led her to feel "immense anxiety" that she was going to lose her baby. 

Laura started the programme when she was around 22 weeks pregnant. By the end, she said her anxiety was "pretty much gone." "I never believed I would get to the place where I could enjoy my pregnancy," she confessed.

The young mum says she almost didn't take part in the programme, but that it would have been "quite disastrous." While she initially thought sharing her feelings in front of strangers was intimidating, she assured those considering it that participants only need to share what they feel comfortable with.

“Everyone was worried about different things – some about being able to parent, others about giving birth," she explained. "But it didn’t give me more to worry about but rather helped give me a sense of perspective."

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Pictured: 'Pregnancy in Mind' aims to help parents feel confident in their parenting skills.

“There were still bad weeks but some of the tools we were given helped me put things into perspective and get into a better mind-set," Laura said.

Sally Walker, Children’s Service Practitioner at NSPCC Jersey added: “We want to help parents create strong and healthy families, by supporting them to address poor mental health, and build strong relationships from the start. 

“For many, the classes will help them acknowledge their pre-natal depression, by recognising the signs. Learning and developing coping mechanisms to help them cope with the pressures of being a new mum or dad, will instil confidence and help them manage and take control of situations as they happen.”

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Pictured: The service will be delivered at the NSPCC's Gower Centre on Stopford Road.

NSPCC Jersey is working closely with other organisations on the island around referrals, and will signpost parents they work with onto additional services such as 'Baby Steps', which supports parents later on in pregnancy and after the birth. 

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