Given my maternity-related roles, I’m often asked by friends and neighbours about where new mothers can get support locally. I tell them about two places where mothers can not only turn for support, but also find community and opportunity. I know there are many support options available but these are two that I know about because I’ve been actively involved in both of them over the years since I had my children.
Baby Cafe Beckenham and Penge
The first of these is Baby Cafe Beckenham and Penge. These local breastfeeding support groups are open to all expectant and current parents. They are social groups where you can have a hot drink and eat delicious home made cake. There is always a breastfeeding counsellor present to offer support with breastfeeding should you need it.
These groups provide a peer-support function, particularly for breastfeeding mothers. However, you would also be welcome there when you’re pregnant, or later on when you’re no longer breastfeeding if you’d like to debrief your baby feeding experience or consider what learning you could take forward for the future.
These groups are run by an experienced NCT breastfeeding counsellor, Kate Cameron, who bakes all the cakes as well as providing sensitive and non-judgemental support. Have no doubt, you are in good hands here.
Male and female partners, friends or family members are very welcome to attend Baby Cafe too alongside breastfeeding mothers.
PRUH Maternity Voices
The second opportunity I’d like to tell you about is PRUH Maternity Voices. For many new mothers, their experience of pregnancy, labour and birth includes both highs and lows and they often find themselves reflecting on the support they received – the dedicated individuals who helped them through this transformational experience, but also the ways in which services could have met their needs better. If you’re in this position, you may choose to approach your midwife to ask for a debrief of your birth. You may also request to give feedback or even complain to the service if you have any serious concerns. It can be important to know that your concerns have been heard and to resolve any unanswered questions that you may have. Once you’ve had an opportunity to debrief your own personal experience, you may find yourself thinking you’d like to do something to improve services for the future. This is where PRUH Maternity Voices comes in.
PRUH Maternity Voices is a group of service users (i.e. mothers and families) and staff working in the NHS maternity services, who come together to coproduce improvements to those services. Together, they listen to feedback from local families, monitor outcomes of the service and consider how national recommendations are being implemented locally. Everyone works together, as equals, across organisational and professional boundaries, to understand how the service can improve and to act on the feedback they receive.
Any parent in the Borough of Bromley can ask to join PRUH Maternity Voices. There are lots of ways you can get involved – e.g. attending committee meetings, helping to gather service user feedback, or commenting on draft text of new materials for parents. It’s really important that a wide range of voices are heard, so if you think you’re not the sort of person who would normally get involved in something like this, or if you feel that you might be bringing a minority perspective, then it’s probably even more important for you to get involved and you will certainly be warmly welcomed.
Contact details for PRUH Maternity Voices can be found on this page. I hope to see you in one of the meetings sometime!
Becoming a mother can be overwhelming and exhausting. But in time it can also bring new opportunities for personal development, community connection and clarity of purpose. You may or may not feel that the opportunities I’ve shared here are relevant for you. Each of us finds our own way through motherhood. Whatever path you follow, I hope it will bring you to a place of inner confidence and wellbeing and also will help you to build stronger connections with your local community.