‘Becky’* is a mum in Bromley borough and is a volunteer for Mindful Mums, leading groups of mums and helping them to look after themselves during pregnancy and the first year after birth.
Becky shares her experiences of Mindful Mums…
“I volunteer for Mindful Mums because it resonates with me. My children are now in primary school, but I know if I had had the opportunity to attend this course when they were babies, I might have coped better. I would have understood more about my own mental health and could have recognised warning signs. I might have gone to my GP sooner to ask for help when I was struggling.
Being part of the project is a huge privilege and personally so important. I believe wholeheartedly in what Mindful Mums brings to pregnant and perinatal mums.
Becoming a mother can put women on a rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions. It is a steep learning curve and can be very isolating.
The project offers advice, reassurance, insight, experience and peer support. No subject is taboo; we can talk about anything.
The mindfulness aspect of the course is subtle, yet powerful. We introduce quick, easy mindfulness techniques for a calming effect at the end of each session.
Being part of Mindful Mums makes a huge difference to me. To have the opportunity to help new mums avoid the pitfalls I fell into, to be able to steer them towards others who can advise on breastfeeding issues or suggest local groups that may be of interest, is fantastic.
The sessions are wholly positive and inclusive. Seeing the mums meet in week one and leave at the end of week five as new friends, with a WhatsApp group in place in order to organise their next meet, makes my heart sing. I know these women have each other’s best interests at heart and will continue to support each other along their journey into motherhood.
The importance of peer support cannot be underestimated – the laughs, the uncertainty, the “Is this normal?” conversations.
If we as volunteers can help mums meet each other and create a platform for discussion and understanding, then we have achieved something amazing, and of that, I am immensely proud.
With the feedback we receive, we are able to improve the course and I can’t wait for the next one to begin! I am happy and confident as a facilitator and have some incredible new friends in my co-facilitators.
Volunteering has had a profound effect on my own mental health. I therefore remain excited by and committed to the Mindful Mums project. Long may it continue for the happiness of all Bromley mums.”
Perinatal Mental Health Support in Bromley
Bromley & Lewisham Mind developed Perinatal Community Mental Health Support in during 2016, working closely alongside the specialist perinatal mental health team in Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.
The service provides support to women with the dual challenges of looking after their own emotional wellbeing during pregnancy and first year after birth (the ‘perinatal’ period). It also helps mothers connect and support each other (peer support).
Mindful Mums provides groups for pregnant women and new mothers to help them manage their wellbeing. Each wellbeing group runs for five sessions and is run by by two trained and supported volunteers who have their own lived experience of perinatal mental health problems.
From July 2016 to March 2017, a total of 118 women benefited from the groups, with 99% developing skills they could take away and use and 97% reporting that they had increased confidence.
Evaluation using the Mind Resilience Measure showed that all women improved in at least one of three areas (wellbeing, feeling positive and problem solving, social support) after attending the group, with 67% showing an improvement in all three.
By the end of the pilot, further funding had been secured from local Clinical Commissioning Groups, to develop Mindful Mums in Lewisham and to continue and expand the delivery in Bromley, including adding some more targeted groups and a befriending service.
Find out more about Bromley & Lewisham Mind services in our Annual Review 2017.