New initiative aims to give Hastings and Eastbourne babies the best start in life

A new initiative to help mums give their babies the best start in life has been launched across maternity services at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Friday, 5th April 2019, 12:02 pm
Updated Friday, 5th April 2019, 12:12 pm

The Happy Baby Club promotes six very simple messages that are used to start open and positive conversations with women, a Trust spokesman said.

It will be used by midwives, midwifery support workers, nursery nurses and health visitors from a woman’s first booking appointment with the maternity service, through to the baby’s 2nd birthday.

The initiative was the idea of Ella Schofield, Infant Feeding Lead at the Trust.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust launches Happy Baby initiative

She said: “We just want to help women to be the best mothers they can be and their babies to be the happiest they can be.

“The club gives us a way to start conversations with pregnant women and new mums in a meaningful and friendly way and to raise issues such as keeping cortisol (stress hormone) levels down.

“Creating this virtual club will allow women to check in daily with their own progress and remind them how well they are actually doing.

“It also allows us to support women so that they feel comfortable disclosing information and don’t feel like a failure if there are some things that they are finding difficult.

“We made the advice very simple so it’s easy to follow and costs nothing to do.

“At the end of the day, everyone wants a happy baby.”

The scheme is in line with studies which have shown that the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life – roughly the time between conception and the baby’s 2nd birthday – have the greatest impact on health, growth and brain development into adulthood.

The advice focuses on six key areas as starting points for discussion – feeding baby safely, looking at baby and smiling, protecting baby from second hand smoke, cuddling baby, no shouting near baby and saying ‘I love you’ to baby.

This enables a less compartmentalised approach to support by staff and a more personalised guide for each new family.

As part of the initiative, drop-in groups will be trialled at Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH where women can talk to other pregnant women and mums in an open, supportive and confidential environment.

The introduction of the Happy Baby Club will also allow the Trust to work towards Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative which recognises public services that support families with feeding and developing close, loving parent-infant relationships, ensuring that all babies get the best possible start.

Emma Chambers, Head of Midwifery and Assistant Director of Nursing, added: “The Happy Baby Club is a fantastic way for us to improve the care and safety of babies in East Sussex, getting the same consistent messages across to everyone in a supportive and positive way.”