Extra Help for Teenage Mums in Forth Valley

Teenage Mums across Forth Valley are to get extra support from specially-trained nurses.

The Family Nurse Partnership – a US inspired scheme – aims to help first-time parents aged 19 and under give their babies a healthier start to life.

The programme starts on April 28th 2014 in Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire and expectant Mums will be eligible to join from the time of their l2 weeks scan until they are 28 weeks pregnant.

A pattern of weekly and fortnightly visits begins in pregnancy and continues until the child’s second birthday.  Using programme guidelines, materials and practical activities the nurses work with the mother on understanding their baby, making changes to improve overall wellbeing, developing emotionally and building on strengths which encourage positive relationships.  Where possible, the nurse will work with the baby’s father and wider family members. Advice will also be offered on diet, education and employment.

NHS Forth Valley Family Nurse Supervisor Lorraine Newbigging who is leading the new team, said: “Being a parent is challenging for most people, but being a teenage parent brings with it even greater challenges. Not only does the Family Nurse Partnership increase the likelihood of the young Mum being able to go back to school or a job, but it can lead to greater involvement of fathers. In addition, the babies themselves are more likely to reach developmental milestones and be ready for when they go to school. It’s a fantastic programme.”

The programme is the brainchild of Prof David Olds, a professor of paediatrics at the University of Colorado in the US, who found that it improved pre-natal health, increased young mothers’ uptake of employment and resulted in better planning of future pregnancies. The programme, which has had 30 years of development and three large scale research trials in the USA, typically lasts for 30 months.

The Forth Valley team comprises four family nurses, a supervisor and a data manager. Staff who are already highly trained in nursing and midwifery have undergone 15 months of intensive tuition, some of it residential, at Masters level. This has covered pregnancy, infancy and toddler training and communication skills.

Each year in Forth Valley around 120 babies are born to teenage Mums.