LSCBLocal Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire

NGH Chit Chat Group Nominated for National Award

An antenatal group for women and partners who need extra support with their experience of pregnancy and childbirth has been shortlisted for two national awards.

The Chit Chat group was established by Northampton General Hospital’s midwives as a way of tailoring antenatal education, parenting advice and peer support to women with additional needs, including learning disabilities or anxiety.

The group has been shortlisted in the Nursing Times Awards - a national award scheme to celebrate excellence in nursing and midwifery throughout the UK - in the Learning Disabilities Nursing category and the Enhancing Patient Dignity category.
Named midwife for obstetrics and gynaecology Emma Fathers said: “We felt it was important to set up the group for families who may have additional needs. The idea is to provide help and support with individualised, accessible care so that everyone who uses our service receives the best maternity care possible.”

Research shows that some women, those with learning disabilities for example, avoid maternity care often because of lack of confidence, and they are at greater risk of poor outcomes during their pregnancy and the postnatal period. They are also more likely to be vulnerable due to other issues such as mental health concerns or issues with housing, and be reluctant to ask for the help they need.

“Mothers are welcome to bring partners or family members along to the group for support,” said Emma. “We meet every two weeks on labour ward, which itself helps to break down barriers and reduce anxiety as parents become familiar with the hospital environment. They talk about a wide range of subjects from labour and birth to pain relief, how they will know when it’s time to come in, what it will be like and so on.

“Some members may feel they are socially excluded or living in quite vulnerable circumstances, and the group enables them to have this peer support around them. They meet other mums who can become friends and help each other throughout pregnancy and as their children grow.

“As well as maternity issues they may help and support each other with things like applications for bus passes or for jobs. Recently one of the dads got a job for the first time in his life due to confidence that he has gained through attending the group.

“The midwives who run the group, Angela Bithray and Sally Kingston, can also attend hospital appointments to support the women. It can be quite daunting coming to a big hospital so it’s fantastic for the women to come in and see a familiar and friendly face. Midwives have also attended planned caesareans to support them and it has helped to provide a better experience all round.

“We’ve had some lovely comments about how much more confident the group has made them, about how lovely it is to meet people in similar situations, how nice it is to make friends. The group is challenging to run, it’s time out of a very busy working week, but for us if we have just one comment from a woman about the group making her feel more confident about being a mother – it’s all worthwhile.”

The winners will be announced on 26 October.

Last updated: 11 August 2016

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