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For some, becoming a parent for the first time may be a profound stressor associated with negative long-term consequences, while for others it is an important source of wellbeing.

Contemporary research recognises the profound influence of fathers on their children’s wellbeing that lasts a lifetime, and the government has recently announced new measures to improve family stability that includes a role for the health visitor in spotting and responding to signs of parental relationship distress. Early adversity and its long-term impact on health and social outcomes for the child has been widely acknowledged.



Opportunities are present for health visitors during pregnancy and the first year of a child’s life (through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme) to identify and address difficult and challenging factors such as the presence of perinatal depression, toxic stress, problematic bonding and reflective function that will impact attachment, family conflict and social isolation etc. Health visitors need a wide range of contemporary knowledge and skills in order to support parents and infants effectively through individual and group contacts in the antenatal period and the early weeks.

See the High Impact Area guidance on Transition to Parenthood here

Supporting parents

Watch a video of Dr Crispin Day, from the Centre for Parent and Child Support South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, talking about the importance of transition to parenthood for the developing infant and parents.

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