The NHS Information Service for Parents will give new parents information and advice they can trust covering a wide range of issues related to staying healthy in pregnancy, preparing for birth and looking after their baby.
By signing up to the service, parents-to-be and new parents will receive regular emails and text messages containing relevant and timely NHS approved advice as their pregnancy develops and as their child grows.
Links to videos showing midwives demonstrating practical advice such as bathing your baby, and parents discussing issues that affected them and how they supported each other, will also be sent at appropriate times.
The care and attention a child receives when young will affect their health, behaviour and ability to learn throughout their lives. A recent survey suggests that 85% of parents want more practical help on caring for their baby to provide the best possible start for their children.
Parents will be invited to sign up to the new service at booking appointments with midwives, and organisations where parents already go for advice and support will have the option of including a sign-up facility directly on their own websites.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Parents are nation-builders. It’s through love and sheer hard work that we raise the next generation with the right values. That’s why this government is doing everything possible to support parents.
“We’re focused on making life easier for parents day-to-day, from extending childcare to increasing the number of health visitors. The parenting classes and films we’re launching this week are an important part of that, providing clear, professionally-led advice on everything from teething to tantrums.”
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:
“We all want to give our children the best start in life. But sometimes, particularly for first-time parents, bringing a new baby home can be a daunting as well as a happy experience.
_“That is why we are determined to help people become more confident in becoming a parent - from pregnancy to the start of their children’s lives. _
“From now on, this new information service will be at parents’ sides to support them in the first stage of their child’s journey, guiding them with relevant information and first-hand experience from other parents.”
Visit www.nhs.uk/parents to sign up to the service or to find out more.
Free parenting classes
Free parenting classes are also being made available for all parents of children aged 5 years and under in 3 trial areas:
- High Peak in Derbyshire
- Camden in London
All mothers and fathers in these areas will be entitled to a voucher - available from children’s centres, health visitors and professionals who have contact with families, and from Boots stores - covering the cost of a course of parenting classes.
The National Childbirth Trust, Coram, Save the Children, and the Fatherhood Institute are among those who are delivering the classes.
Up to £5m has been made available for the trial which runs until March 2014. This includes funding for redemption of parenting class vouchers and an independent evaluation.
The trial will help government understand how classes could be made available to every parent. Decisions on national roll out will be informed by the independent evaluation.
Relationship support for first-time parents
To support first-time parents with the transition to parenthood, expert organisations will deliver relationship support sessions in 4 trial areas of the country from this summer.
Research shows that the birth of a new child can be a stress point for couples. A trial starting in July will offer subsidised relationship support sessions for all expectant mothers and fathers and those with children up to the age of 2 in the trial areas:
- York and Leeds
- North Essex
- Hackney and City of London
- Islington and Westminster
The sessions - which will be delivered by Relate, The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and the Fatherhood Institute - are designed to help parents understand that it is normal for their relationship to go through a transition period after they have a child and to give them strategies to work through this as a couple.
Parents will have the choice of face to face and/or online support and the trial will be managed and promoted by the National Childbirth Trust.
The aim is to encourage couples to feel that it is normal to access relationship support in the first few years of their child’s life - just as they would go to an antenatal class.
The offer will be distributed by professionals working in the early years - for example, from nurseries, children’s centres, midwives and health visitors.
Up to £1m has been made available for the trial, which will run until March 2014.