Service speaking up for babies

By Nub News Reporter

10th Jun 2024 | Local News

DID you know a baby's brain makes more than one million new connections every second?

Their environment and interactions with people help shape the way their brains develop and the first two years of a baby's life are important to their overall healthy development.

As part of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week (10 to 16 June), Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), which offers mental health support to more than 100,000 people across our region - is highlighting what infant mental health is, and the help available to parents who are struggling to bond with their baby or need support for their own mental health.

Ella Beatty, Assistant Psychologist for our Together With Baby Parent-Infant Mental Health Service, said: "Infant mental health is the social and emotional wellbeing and development of children during their early years of life.

"Good infant mental health enables babies to feel safe and secure, and ready to play, explore and learn.

"These early experiences, and their relationships with the people around them, play an important role in increasing opportunities for them to achieve their potential in later life, and lay the foundations for their ongoing social and emotional development.

"You can help your baby make healthy brain connections and feel loved and reassured through play, talking, reading and singing to them, physical touch and eye contact, comforting them, and responding positively to any noises they make.

"It's important to know that every parent or carer bonds with a baby at their own pace. Sometimes it happens during pregnancy, other times it could happen soon after the baby is born, or it could take some time.

"If you are struggling, please know you are not alone. There are many reasons why you may be finding it hard to bond with your baby, and I urge anyone who has any concerns to speak to their health visitor, GP or midwife as there is lots of support available."

EPUT services for families

Together With Baby Parent-Infant Mental Health Service

Clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and parent-infant therapists support parents to better understand their baby's emotional responses and communication, and strengthen their relationship with their child.

They offer a safe and non-judgmental space to help parents understand and navigate the difficulties they may be facing. 

The service supports families during pregnancy and until their child is two-years-old.

Here are some examples of feedback from parents who have been supported by Together With Baby:

"I am much more affectionate with my baby and we are now able to bond with each other."

"I feel like I have grown so much as a person and as a new mum since I started this journey."

"Now our relationship is everything I hoped it could be."

"The work helped me accept my past, I realised there was a lot more going on and it was helpful having the space to vent. I felt heard and not judged."

"Initially I struggled to understand his cues, I felt I really misunderstood him and couldn't figure him out. Now I understand him which has positively impacted on my mood."

You can self-refer to Together With Baby, or your GP, health visitor, midwife or mental health worker can make a referral on your behalf. Find out more on the Together with Baby service webpage.​

Perinatal Mental Health Service Team

Specialist community perinatal mental health service supports people who are pregnant and are experiencing or are likely to experience mental health difficulties, and might benefit from specialist support.

Where needed, they can help you and your family plan to have a safe, healthy pregnancy, and support you with your wellbeing and relationship with your baby.

If you are not yet pregnant but are planning to have a baby and have a diagnosed mental illness or are on medication for your mental health, they can support you by providing advice and guidance about possible risks and treatment options.

You can speak to any health or social care professional supporting you to consider if a referral is needed. You can find out more on the Perinatal Mental Health Service Team webpage.

Rainbow Mother and Baby Unit

The specialist Rainbow Mother and Baby Unit in Chelmsford provides inpatient mental health care and treatment for women during the late stages of pregnancy and up to one year after the birth of their baby.

The team also offer support to their families and carers and aim to help new parents develop strong relationships with their baby and support network.

Your health professional can advise if a referral is needed.

Other organisations and places to find support

The Parents 1st Essex Peer to Parent Network has a list of peer support groups in Essex.

Peer supporters are there to listen and talk about any worries, including if you feel unsupported, isolated, lonely or anxious, are concerned about financial or housing issues, or just feel like you're not coping well. 

They can help parents emotionally and practically, both before your baby is born and afterwards.

The Better Health – Start for Life website has NHS advice and guidance to help you have a healthy and happy baby.

Charity Tommy's has information and advice on its website about supporting your baby's development and looking after your own mental health.

PANDAS Foundation offers peer support for parents experiencing perinatal mental health challenges.

The Parent-Infant Foundation, which organises Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, has information about why infant mental health matters and links to helpful websites.


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