Supporting families – Emotional Wellbeing
#Flamingjune is well under way and there has been so many wonderful conversations taking place on the Matexp facebook group. As part of this months campaign, ACTIONS to improve services have very much been at the forefront with everyone sharing ideas to make sure support given to families is the best it can be.
With this in mind one of the subjects discussed was Emotional Wellbeing. Many shared heartfelt stories, and personal experiences as well as ideas that would have made a difference them and their families.
- How much do you feel your pregnancy, birth and postnatal care affected your emotional wellbeing?
- How do you think we can help prepare women and their partners for the impact that birth and caring for a new baby has on emotional wellbeing ?
- What supported or helped you to protect your emotional wellbeing?
- What can be done to help health care professionals be able to support families better?
Many commented on how we often under estimate the impact having a new baby has on a family. It was said that ‘adapting from working life to being at home was overwhelming’, ‘that often dads are working long hours and need support too’ and having somewhere to go to talk to others and relax was vital. Emotional support was mentioned as being a “basic need” for families.
One comment noted that ‘real life’ parenting needs to be discussed at antenatal contacts. “We are bombarded with the prefect images of parenthood, I don’t think people are prepared for the realities of parenthood – being totally exhausted but this little person still needs feeding and there is no milk in the fridge so you cant even have a coffee to wake up you”.
Another commented’ ” professionals need to understand the stresses which parents face not just with the birth, but financial, logistical etc”. What suggestions were made that would help? “By looking through the eyes of the patient, and trying to see things from their point of view”. Yes walking in another’s shoes so to speak showing empathy, and understanding helps provide support that protects the emotional wellbeing of families.
Many voiced feeling left alone, isolated and ‘fending for themselves’ after the birth of their babies and how this impacted their emotional wellbeing. Many felt afraid to voice they were struggling with motherhood and kept it to themselves worrying they be dismissed or viewed as ‘failing’.
Others voiced how important good support from health visitors, peer support and support groups was to their emotional wellbeing and not just for mom but dads too. In fact is was mentioned how important it is to ask dads how they are doing too!
Again and again support was mentioned for birth trauma and loss of a baby. Things such as professional counselling to be available as standard and peer support on wards and units. As well as health professionals knowing where to signpost families for support including local charities and national organisations.
One comment read “the single biggest thing would have been to treat us respectfully”. Very sobering.
So what were some of the actions that came out of the discussion to help with emotional wellbeing?
- Maternity units to have specially trained staff to care for those that have suffered birth trauma, loss or mental health issues.
- To remember that care involves emotional support not just physical.
- Peer support for families on wards and in NICU.
- Specialist counselling services available as part of post-natal after care and on NICU unit so families do not have to leave their babies.
- Antenatal support on ‘real life’ caring for a baby, as well as how to look after their emotional wellbeing.
- After birth de-briefs for sharing of experiences both good and bad to help improve care given.
- Remember that dads need support too.
- Health professionals to be aware of support available to families so they can signpost.
- For all staff supporting families to show kindness, compassion and empathy and provide care that is patient-centred meeting individual needs.
- Most of all treat families with respect. “letting mums and dads know that being good is good enough – they don’t need to be perfect”.
Emotional wellbeing is important for families, by sharing experiences, listening and working together we can help improve the maternity experience for all.
There is beauty in giving to others
Click here to add more actions
Emma Jane Sasaru