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More support urgently needed for new moms

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A Freedom of Information (FOI) study conducted by a national charity has found that 97% of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the organisations responsible for planning and commissioning local health care services, do NOT have a strategy for supporting women after pregnancy.

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the UKs biggest charity for parenting, approached 194 CCGs to identify which groups currently offered a perinatal strategy or planned to in the future. Of the 186 who responded, only 3% had a strategy, and alarmingly 60% had no plans to introduce one.

The NCT also found that out of 193 NHS Trusts, 54% offered no service to new moms whatsoever and a worryingly low amount, only 13 NHS Trusts, actually offered a team of mental health specialists on hand to support those displaying the affects of post-natal depression.

The charity found that one in ten moms suffer from some form of depression, and with ‘huge gaps’ in the support provided by the NHS, more resources are urgently needed.

Loss of Life

NCT Chief Exec Belinda Phipps said; “While we found some areas with excellent care, too often we have found situations where there is no care, or very little care.

“If there are whole areas where GPs, midwives and health visitors have no training or time to dedicate to this vital service then women will not get the help and support they need.

“For many parents this will result in months of misery, damaging both family relations and children's well-being. And, in the most extreme circumstances, it will result in tragedy and loss of life.”

NHS England's national clinical director for maternity and women's health, Dr Catherine Calderwood, admitted to the BBC there were issues. In a statement, she told them; "While across the country there are many good examples of high quality support for postnatal depression, the level of service is still too varied and local commissioners need to ensure that the support they provide for women meets the highest standards."

Despite this call for more resource from the NHS, organisations like Bromford already support hundreds of families in specialist schemes, providing a structured home environment and support workers. Typically these would include a number of self-contained flats around a communal area, with dedicated support workers on site.

Many of those referred to Bromford are 16-25 years old and come from difficult circumstances. Whether a single parent or family, they need support to not only become great parents, but also to manage their home, bills and access welfare or work.

It's not just about support

Dianne Belshaw was originally a resident of Hadley Mews, a support scheme in Warwickshire, but has since built a great new life independently. She said; “Hadley Mews was great, there were so many activities and things to do and I could always rely on having someone to turn to, whether it was an emergency or not.

“I was in an abusive relationship originally and became homeless. I just couldn’t cope with everything going on in my life.  If it wasn’t for Hadley Mews I don’t think I’d have a roof over my head, and worst of all, they’d have taken my daughter Lisa away from me. I couldn’t have coped with that.

“I’ve gone from being shy and timid to who I am, because in the end it’s not about just receiving support, but having trust in those who are helping you.”

Senior support worker Emma Beard believes it is this kind of intimate ‘trust’ based support that ensures young moms don’t end up suffering from depression, when they should be proud of what they have achieved.

She said; “One of the best things about this job is seeing the young families grow into independent fantastic parents who can be role models for the children. Having a one-to-one relationship, and a community of friends around them, helps them on the right path to create really happy families. Its support like this we need to see more of.”

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