9 May 2016
A postnatal support service which helps mums and dads after the arrival of their newborn is celebrating a very happy first birthday.
Post-birth Buddies, funded by the Lichfield District Partnership and run by Prohealth UK, was set up in 2015 to offer specialised psychological support to both women and men following the birth of a child.
Prohealth UK clinical lead Rebecca Southall said: “While having a baby can be a wonderful experience for some, for too many families it can also be overshadowed with anxiety, doubt, irrational thoughts, sleep deprivation, fear and the after-effects of traumatic birth, all of which can lead to depression.
“Over the past year our service has directly supported 45 new parents in groups or one-to-one counselling, and over 100 other parents via our online resources. We help them to work through their concerns, identify alternative coping strategies and gain a greater sense of resilience and understanding.”
Rebecca added that the positive changes in the parents then had a ripple effect on the rest of the family – thus helping many more people and building a stable base for the family unit for the future.
Covering Lichfield and Burntwood, Post-birth Buddies provides a six-week group programme of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)-based interventions supported with learning tools and resources which clients can keep for the future.
Delivered by a team of fully-qualified CBT therapists and counsellors, the team also offers 1-1 sessions to postnatal mums and dads where there is a clinical need. An online, guided self-help programme is also available via the website www.space4u2talk.com
Dr John James, Clinical Chair of South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula Clinical Commissioning Group, which co-commissioned the scheme as part of the Lichfield Partnership, said: “The Post-birth Buddies service offers valuable support to parents and families at what can be a very stressful time. We are delighted to see it making such a difference to the lives of its clients.”
Patient experiences include:
- One mum who was referred by her Health Visitor to help her work through the anxiety and depression she had experienced since her son’s birth five months before. She described the group as “life changing” and couldn’t believe that “such a
group was available and didn’t cost anything!” During the programme, she learned about patterns of thinking which were holding her back, identified alternative, more helpful ways of thinking and gained the confidence to go out alone with her baby rather than feeling trapped inside. Working on communication skills enabled her to improve relationships with her husband and other family members - which also boosted her confidence. She was able to successfully continue breastfeeding when at one point she felt it was too stressful to continue. Now she is so passionate about the importance of the programme that she has enrolled on Peer Wellbeing Champion training to become qualified to help facilitate groups in the future and to give confidence to other new mothers.
- One of the fathers referred to the service received eight sessions with a male counsellor. He was able to work through his stress around not feeling able to support his wife after she was diagnosed with post-natal OCD. The therapist was able to explain and demystify her condition to him. The dad also reported feeling really supported within a confidential and peaceful setting at a time when he felt unable to tell his wife the effect the situation was having on him and feeling ashamed due the perceived stigma of being somehow weak because he needed help himself.
Rebecca added: “The positive response and feedback which we have had from the clients has been amazing and reinforces our knowledge that this service is greatly needed. The support and encouragement which the ladies have received from being part of a group has been particularly significant – just that knowledge that they are not alone can make all the difference.”
Referrals to Post-birth Buddies can be made by health professionals or people can self-refer.