All new mums living in Chester and Ellesmere Port are among those who will now receive a free Finnish-style baby box.
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 ante-natal maternity care.
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 ante-natal and post-natal 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.
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.
Programme director for the NHS Improving Me programme, Catherine McClennan, 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.”
Senior responsible officer for the NHS Improving Me programme Simon Banks 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.”
Head of midwifery at the Countess of Chester Hospital Kathie Grimes 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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.