A helping hand with the craft of parenting
EQUIPPING parents to give their children the best start in life is the aim of an innovative new programme which links antenatal appointments with parenting education support for the first time in Northern Ireland.
The Getting Ready for Baby Programme is part of the Northern Ireland Government Early Intervention Transformation Programme (EITP), aimed at improving outcomes for children by supporting parents to understand, develop and fulfil the critical role they play in their children’s early years.
The programme is currently targeted at first time parents, where mothers have no health or pregnancy complications.
As well as preparing mothers for labour and birth, the team of midwives are educating parents about feeding and caring for baby, bonding, emotional wellbeing, providing early learning opportunities and making choices to reduce stress within their family.
"These sessions start much earlier than traditional antenatal programmes and will provide more continuity of care," says Jackie McBrinn, EITP Implementation Manager.
"This education will primarily be women-centred and developed to ensure all women and their partners receive the advice they require to prepare them for parenthood and birth."
The first GRFB programme started in September 2016 in the Mater Hospital Antenatal Clinic and the first baby born in that group was little Theodore Sweeney, who is now four months old.
Proud new dad Brendan says he has gained a lot from the scheme.
"I felt really prepared for when Theo came along and I just felt happy about how things went.
"During the whole labour process I knew exactly what was happening so I was able to support my wife through it. I would definitely recommend it to other new parents."