ALL new mums living in Cheshire and Merseyside are to receive a free Finnish-style Baby Box from 25 September following a successful pilot in Halton.
The initiative, led by the NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Improving Me programme, will include all new mums in the region getting a Baby Box as part of their antenatal maternity care.
Families receiving a Baby Box also become members of the Baby Box University – an online education syllabus providing health advice and support on a wide range of topics, such as breastfeeding, smoking cessation, perinatal mental health and nutrition in pregnancy.
This is supported with antenatal appointments with their midwives and additional sessions through the Baby Box community, which aim to reduce social isolation and provide additional guidance on use of the Baby Box and its resources.
At the first meeting with a midwife, women will be given their card to access the Baby Box University. At around 28 weeks of pregnancy, all women will be invited to collect their Baby Box. West Cheshire distribution points include Blacon, Stanlow Abbey and Frodsham Children’s Centres.
Catherine McClennan, programme director for the NHS Improving Me programme, said: “I’m delighted that we are able to expand our fantastic Baby Box initiative to all new families in Cheshire and Merseyside. Baby Boxes are a powerful and internationally recognised engagement tool that will help us to reduce health inequalities, increase choice in pregnancy and deliver more person-centred care as part of a maternity package of education.”
Simon Banks, senior responsible officer for the NHS Improving Me programme, said: “We have worked closely with local maternity experts to ensure we are providing an offer that supports improved maternity experiences for everyone. The feedback we have received from our pilot in Halton from families and health professionals has been fantastic and we are proud to be rolling the offer out across the region.”
Kathie Grimes, head of midwifery at the Countess of Chester Hospital, said: “We are really excited to take part in the Baby Box initiative. Having a baby is a huge life-changing event and by giving all new parents a few useful items such as vests, nappies and a cot for safe sleeping it provides a head start which we know will be appreciated by many of the mums and dads we see in the community.
“The Baby Box University is also a treasure trove of accessible information, with syllabuses covering almost everything a new parent would want to know in one place. We do everything we can to provide advice for parents, but being able to log on and access this kind of information at any time whenever they want is an extra comfort.”
First used in Finland in the 1930s, Baby Boxes are used across the globe as an established and recognised maternity engagement tool to support women and families throughout their antenatal and postnatal journey.
In addition to providing a safe space for a new born baby to rest should they need one, Baby Boxes come stocked with ethically sourced ‘starter’ resources – such as nappies, breast pads and items of clothing – aiming to make life that little bit easier for new families.
Jennifer Clary, CEO of Baby Box Co, said: “Working in partnership with the NHS Improving Me programme team has been incredibly rewarding and I am delighted to see this innovative Baby Box programme expand beyond Halton to include all expecting and new parents in Cheshire and Merseyside.”
The Improving Me programme is a partnership of 27 NHS organisations across Cheshire and Merseyside aiming to improve the experiences of women and children. The Partnership is one of the NHS England’s ‘vanguard’ sites (designed to create new models of care in the NHS) and one of seven maternity pioneers in the country.
Further information about the Cheshire and Merseyside Baby Box initiative, including local distribution centres for all maternity providers, can be found at www.ImprovingMe.org.uk or by emailing email@example.com
See full story in the Chester Leader