Image: Vicky Wright at the most recent You & Your Baby group session on Zoom, where parents are showing their baby’s favourite toy.
If you’re expecting a child or have recently had a child, did you know that you can benefit from FREE weekly group sessions which have been developed specifically to support you and your needs?
Local mental health and wellbeing charity Advance Brighter Futures (ABF) set up its PRAMS (Parental Resilience And Mutual Support) project in 2014, which is available to mothers and fathers who would like some additional support through the challenges of early parenthood.
ABF uses the feedback from parents it supports to continually develop PRAMS, which is how two groups within the project were created; You & Your Baby and You & Your Bump.
You & Your Bump is a group for expectant parents that runs on Wednesday’s and consists of five fun weekly 90-minute sessions.
You & Your Baby is a group for new parents (with a baby up to 12 months old as a rough guide) that takes place on Thursday’s and has six friendly weekly 90-minute sessions.
Both of these groups are fully funded by Wrexham Council’s Families First programme, and run regularly throughout the year. The next sessions for You & Your Baby are set to begin on Thursday 25th June.
“Shaped by parents in Wrexham”
Lorrisa Roberts, Chief Officer at ABF, said: “At Advance Brighter Futures we always listen to the people we support, as they’re the ones who will often know what’s right for their own wellbeing, and our PRAMS project is the best example of how we’ve used what people have told us to create a project specifically for people in Wrexham.
“The two groups within PRAMS; You & Your Baby and You & Your Bump have been shaped by parents in Wrexham, for parents in Wrexham. They told us what they needed and we responded to this.
“We’ve learnt how it’s important for the focus to be on parents, because if parents are happy and thriving, the baby will be too. These groups aren’t a step-by-step guide to looking after a baby, this is all about how the wellness and happiness of a parent will have a knock-on effect to the baby.”
Feedback from a parent: “We’ve learnt from the group that there’s no perfect parent, but what is important is to be loving, caring and understanding your child.”
“You’ll all learn from each other”
Vicky Wright, who runs the group sessions, said: “We create an environment where the parents lead the discussion. If you’re expecting a child, it can be easy to think ‘am I going to be good enough?’, and then after your baby arrives, many other doubts can easily creep in. By sharing openly with people in the same situation – who’ll have many of the same doubts – you’ll find there’s nothing strange about what your experiencing at all, and you’ll all learn from each other.”
Feedback from a parent: “The confidentiality means that we can talk about anything we want with confidence that it will remain private.”
Lockdown has been different, but “so worthwhile”
All of ABF’s services have had to adapt to the challenges faced by lockdown and these group sessions are no exception, with the groups currently meeting up through Zoom. Vicky has embraced the challenge of the group having to meet up digitally.
Vicky explained: “It’s been different having to meet up through Zoom, but so worthwhile as lockdown has presented even more challenges for new and expected parents. The support system is needed even more.
“Someone even commented in our last group that they liked the flexibility of using Zoom as it gives them the freedom to leave the group to answer the door, or attend to their baby easily and then re-join when they’re ready to.”
Bring your baby with you
People who attend the You & Your Baby group are encouraged to bring their baby with them to the sessions as they make up a big part of your experience.
Vicky added: “There’s no awkwardness if your baby screams, or if you need to feed your baby, or anything along those lines. This is a community that your baby is a part of too.
“It’s a really good place to meet other people. Many of the parents have formed lasting bonds with each other and we’ve heard that some have created WhatsApp groups so they can continue to support each other after the sessions have completed. It really is a support network…there’s no competition between who the best parent is or anything like that.”
Feedback from a parent: “I’ve found so much support, not just in the PRAMS You & Your Baby sessions, but in our WhatsApp group, which we plan to continue, and we’ve organised social gatherings for when it’s safe to do so.”
Still come along, even if you feel supported
Something that ABF are keen to stress is that this isn’t just a group for parents who feel that they’re struggling right now, as there’s many benefits to attending the groups which will help you to prevent getting stressed further down the line.
Vicky told us: “We want to get the message across that even if you already feel fairly supported and perhaps don’t feel you need our groups, there’s still plenty of reasons to come along. Try to see this as an extra way to look after your own wellbeing.
“It can just be a good way to find other people who can reinforce the positive things you can do to support your wellbeing, which in turn will help you to get the most out of being a parent. In many ways it’s a case of taking some steps so you can enjoy your baby even more.”
Feedback from a parent: “It’s helped me to realise that we’re not alone and we all support each other, first time mums or not.”
Remember, both groups run regularly throughout the year, with the next sessions for You & Your Baby set to begin on Thursday 25th June.
To register your interest in either of our groups, please either email us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01978 364777.