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The benefits of health visitors carrying out the new first key visit at 28 weeks pregnancy

28th September 2016

Diane Crutchley, Health Visitor for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, talks about the benefits of health visitors carrying out the new first key visit at 28 weeks pregnancy…

Improving bonding between fathers and babies

Since we started the new first key visit at around 28 weeks pregnancy, I’ve been overwhelmed by the comments and kind words I’ve received from expectant mums and their partners.

Having the baby’s father present at the visit has been really beneficial, both for themselves and for the expectant mum. It’s helped fathers to learn more about their baby’s emotional development, both in the womb and after they are born. Dads have been interested to learn all sorts of new facts about their baby, such as how singing and reading can help stimulate their baby’s brain.

Feedback from families

Of course, there has been some anticipation when the antenatal visit was first introduced earlier this year. Some parents were understandably wary of a visit from the health visitor before their baby was born. Their family and friends had not experienced this and so they naturally wanted to know why we were visiting or if there was something wrong.

However, feedback from parents at their six week check has highlighted how valuable the experience had been for them. One family said that the initial visit meant that they knew me when I went back for the new birth visit. This meant they were comfortable talking to me about the birth, which they may not have been if they were meeting me for the first time. It also meant they felt safe to let me check their baby.

The first visit gives mums-to-be the opportunity to talk about their emotional health prior to their baby’s birth, therefore helping them to build a therapeutic relationship early with their health visitor, especially with first time mums. It’s also an opportunity for health visitors to highlight any issues and reassure expectant parents before their baby’s birth.

Strong links with midwives

In addition, the first visit is invaluable for developing close links between health visitors and community midwives. It allows health visitors to quickly notify midwives of any issues or concerns and midwifes to keep health visitors informed of mum’s progress through their antenatal and postnatal contacts. A recent example of this was when I visited an expectant mum whose baby was small for her dates and there were suspected health problems. The woman’s midwife contacted me to let me know that she had given birth and both her and her baby were well. This gave me the opportunity to contact mum early to congratulate her and arrange the second key visit at 10-14 days.

A mum’s feedback:

“Prior to the meeting I was feeling very low and upset.  I had pregnancy fears but also felt very hormonal with regards to family life and the prospect of a new baby in the home.  When Diane came to see me…the meeting was fantastic as Diane picked up on me feeling low and prompted me to speak about how I was feeling.  This in itself was wonderful as I opened up and confided in her.  In return, Diane gave me postive advice and also gave me stress relief exercises.  The meeting came at the right time and helped me in so many ways.”

Diane Crutchley, Health Visitor for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust