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Carlisle and Eden Priorities
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Involvement of Fathers/ Partners –
Keeping Family Together

It is our MVP priority to put focus on improvements in how fathers (partner or birth supporter)Better Births demands more ‘’ services. Service users expect fuller involvement of father/ partners in maternity care and this is reflected in the experience feedback we receive.

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Maternity facilities should be designed to keep family together not separated. Mothers often say that they would like the support of their partner whilst they are in hospital, before, during and after the birth.Partners/birth supporter should be able to stay with Mum in hospital to provide support, where this is mothers preference, and to be there to share precious early moments of bonding with their baby, as a new family.


Increasing numbers of fathers/ partners are taking paternity leave, so the maternity service needs to consider fathers and partner’s needs. Partners also experience birth and sometimes develop postnatal mental health issues too.Maternity Voices is working to develop a web site which will have a father/ partner’s page, we also wish to start a Dad led MVP Facebook group. Above all, Maternity Voices would like to see a strategy developed for involving partners within maternity care and facilities.

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Breastfeeding Support

We hear from some women that they do not always get access to sufficient breast-feeding support. Mums want locally available breastfeeding support groups. Peer supporters play a valuable role in supporting Mums in and out of hospital and their numbers have declined, this needs reversing. Mums expect good consistent information, and good understanding of how to support breastfeeding mothers by all health professionals they encounter, including GP’s and Paediatricians. The MVP’s across West North and East Cumbria share Breastfeeding Support as a key priority. Our MVP’s are also keen to ensure improvements in information for breastfeeding women returning to work is available, as well as better support for breastfeeding mothers generally in workplaces, as we do hear about Mums having to express milk in toilets and store cupboards. The MVP has worked with service users, local GP Mums, & children’s centre staff to identify breastfeeding support issues. This has informed the LMS Better Birth plan, Community Hubs planning and has been fed into the Coproduction work on a refreshed Public Health Strategy for maternity services, this work is ongoing with more workshops planned on Breastfeeding Peer Support.


Improved Specialist Outreach Perinatal Mental Health Service 

Many women, and some partners, are affected by mental health issues pre- conception, in pregnancy and after birth, so it is important to have access to appropriate services locally. The geography of North Cumbria and the dispersed population is a challenge to accessing specialist perinatal mental health services. For North Cumbria access to outreach support is particularly important. The MVP is working with partners, including HappyMums Foundation, and local NHS organisations and has inputted into the NHS England Wave 2 funding bid for monies to improve mental health services in maternity. This bid has been successful. The MVP now have a role to play seeking user feedback to inform implementation plans for improved local services.


Improving Access to Home Births

Mothers and partners report to us that their choice of Home Birth is sometimes not delivered, this causes them anxiety in pregnancy and in labour, as they don’t know until labour starts whether they will be supported in their birthplace choice. We have heard that staffing has not been available to cover some women who have prepared for a home birth. With development of midwifery led care, personalised care plans and continuity of carer, all aspects of implementation, we are looking to see models of staffing that support women’s birthplace choice.


Other work on East Cumbria MVP work plan

  • Development of the MVP group which is still small, increasing the membership of service users and professionals to make the group a more active voice

  • Development of a shared MVP web site with West Cumbria MVP. This should increase the experience feedback received into this MVP group

  • Development of promotional leaflets and materials to raise profile of the group

  • Commence regular 15 Step walkabouts at CIC to get fresh eyes feedback

  • Involvement in development of Alongside MLU facilities on Cumberland Infirmary site, and facilities for additional women and babies. Advised to use this hospital under Option 1 ensuring services are family friendly.

  • Development of outreach visits by service user reps to more parent groups, and to harder to reach groups

  • As part of WNE Cumbria MVP's play active role inputting into MVP's nationally and regionally,and within the northern clinical network.

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