May* and Syed* live in Westborough ward, and are expecting their first baby together in winter 2020. This will be May’s third child and Syed’s first. The couple were referred to the HENRY Preparation for Parenthood service – commissioned by A Better Start Southend – by their Health Visitor. May has faced some challenges during this pregnancy, complicated with gestational diabetes and hip dysplasia, and has been relying on her husband Syed for both physical and emotional support.

The couple were given access to the new Preparation for Parenthood Digital Package of resources via email, and each week at a pre-arranged time, they received 1-to-1 telephone calls from Faye and Carole to explore the topics in further detail and support the family in implementing the learning into their lifestyle.

Syed was very interested in joining in with the Digital Package as this was his first child, and mentioned that he was keen to learn as much as he could before the baby arrived. With this in mind, Syed joined the programme independently of May so that his insight and learning could be assessed at the end.

Throughout the weeks, May and Syed attended sessions together via speakerphone, both sharing their hopes and concerns. They were both eager to bond with the baby before he was born and had started to use the massage technique they learned in the sessions, as well as talking and singing to the bump. Both were also keen to share skin-to-skin contact with the baby, having discussed the array of benefits to baby and parents.

Throughout the programme, both May and Syed had made changes to their lifestyles to improve their overall health. May shared that the guidance around sleep and caring for your baby had changed since she had her first child 13 years ago, but was keen to adapt to the new evidence-based information provided in the programme. Syed had grown in confidence during the programme, becoming chatty and engaged in the group. He had also successfully given up smoking, as he was aware of the damage that it can cause to the baby.

May intends to breastfeed the baby as she did with her older children, and has been signposted to the A Better Start Southend Bump to Breast support group, which she has engaged with antenatally.

*Names have been changed

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