Taunton midwives help raise awareness of infant mental health - 07 June 2016

Taunton midwives help raise awareness of infant mental health - 07 June 2016

Midwives at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton are giving new mums tips on how to support their babies’ emotional health.

The hospital is backing the first national Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place this week (6-10 June). The week aims to highlight why a good emotional and mental health is important to the development of every child.

Department of Health figures show that one in ten children in the UK needs support or treatment for mental health problems.

These can range from short spells of quite mild depression or anxiety through to severe and persistent conditions that are massively disruptive, frightening and life threatening for those who experience them.

At Musgrove Park, new mums are being encouraged by their midwives to use baby carriers or slings to help them to bond with their new baby.

Also, a group of trained volunteer mums who have first-hand experience of breastfeeding are on hand at the hospital. They are available to give other mums free support based on their own experiences of breastfeeding.

Liz Gunn, an infant feeding midwife at Musgrove Park Hospital, said:

“We want to do all we can to make parents aware of the small things they can do that could greatly improve the mental and emotional health of their new baby.

“The awareness week focuses on the first 18 months of a baby’s life, where the earliest experiences shape how a baby’s brain develops. This has a significant impact on how they develop as a child and in later life.

“We are actively promoting the use of baby carriers or slings on our maternity wards. It is a perfect way for new mums to promote positive infant mental health through closer bonding.”

Claire Loader, from Taunton, who recently gave birth to her second child, said she used to sit for hours on the sofa with her first born, which made her feel frustrated.

“Some days I felt that I wasn’t able to achieve anything in the house and this made me really frustrated,” she said.

“This time round I am using a stretchy baby sling, which means I can continue to do those household chores and stay close to my baby at the same time.

“It means I can enjoy even more time with my baby, which has really helped us to bond and I have noticed my baby is happier and more content.”

Viv Bennett, chief nurse at Public Health England, said:

“We know that what happens to babies during pregnancy and the early weeks and months of life really matters through childhood and into adult life.

“Positive early bonding and becoming confident parents is very important to help babies and toddlers to feel secure and in turn build their own confidence and resilience.

“Supporting new parents is vital and the contribution of midwives in promoting these simple steps is valuable both for babies and parents today and as an investment in the future.”