Starting a family can be a daunting task, let alone doing so away from home and family support. Thankfully, the UK is well set up to assist growing families, you just need to know where to look for advice and support. So, read on for a breakdown of some great services which are there for you in your time of need.
When you fall pregnant your first port of call should be your local GP. They will refer you on to a midwife who will be your primary carer throughout your pregnancy; do all your checks, make sure you and your baby are healthy and outline your birth options. They will be responsible for you up to and post birth, at which time you will go into the care of the health visiting team. The health visiting team is then responsible for your child until age five. You will receive a ‘Red’ book to keep track of your child’s appointments and developmental milestones.
The NHS website also has an absolute wealth of information - everything from family planning, what to expect month by month through pregnancy and beyond. Weaning, sleep, parenting - you name it, they have probably got advice on it.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) is the UK’s largest parent charity - think Plunket for the UK. From preparing for pregnancy to giving birth and the early years that follow, you can browse hundreds of free, evidence-based articles in their information centre. They offer a number of courses and workshops - most notably their antenatal classes are particularly popular and many a lifelong friendship has been formed there. The classes are not cheap, but the excellent facilitators and ensuing parent support network make this well worth doing. NCT also organises local activities and meet ups - everything from prenatal yoga to baby first aid and parent socials.
Most local councils offer a range of services for families. This can include lists of local childminders and nurseries to children’s centres and playgroups which cater to the developmental needs of your child. Some children’s centres also offer free pre-loved clothing and toys. Be sure to also check your local council’s website for information on free childcare for 2-4-year olds.
You read that correctly - while it is advisable to google with caution (especially if doing so at the 2am feed), a number of pre and post-natal classes (think pregnancy yoga or mum and baby sensory playgroups) are offered by different companies and individuals which you can discover with a local google search.
A sling can be a godsend to a new mother - a comfortable way of keeping baby close (and often asleep) while mum gets her hands back. Hurrah! If you are thinking about using a sling, then look no further than your local sling library where you can try different products to find the one which best suits you. Tip - you are likely to want a few so renting through a sling library can be a great option.