Perinatal Peer Support Network in Exeter

Perinatal Peer Support Network in Exeter

This week sees the exciting launch of The Nest Southwest’s Perinatal Peer Support Network (PPSN). This small but mighty group of women have lived experience of birthing in a pandemic and are being trained to support local pregnant women and birthing people. They offer a friendly, listening ear from someone who has been there, they can help you to explore your options to find the best choice for you. No medical advice, and no-one telling you what to do as you are the expert on your own life. The perinatal support network helps you understand your options and maybe what helped us might help you too. Not counsellors and not psychologists, we’re all local mums supporting local mums and birthing people. The Nest works alongside the local NHS maternity & clinical care services to offer informal, peer support over a cup of tea. 🙂

The idea for the PPSN came out of our work last year supporting pregnant women via our weekly Zoom Pregnancy Wellbeing groups. and those groups started as in March 2020 as a covid response during the first lockdown. To date we have run 51 session over the last 12 months, and the response has been amazing! Women have joined this little group, and kept coming back every week for many moths of their pregnancy, then returned with their newborn to share their birth experience and also continue the friendships with other women still pregnant. After that many women also stayed in touch with The Nest community via the linked WhatsApp chat groups. The nurturing Nest held the space. Friendships have grown. Babies have been born. Problems have been shared. Solutions have been explored. Stories have been heard.

In December 2020 The Nest ran a survey open to all women who had come along to one of our groups. We asked what they liked, what we could do differently and what they’d like to see from us next. We also ran some in-depth case studies, with surprising results.

The women we spoke to wanted to ‘give back’ to the Nest and volunteer to help other pregnant women struggling during the covid-19 pandemic as they recognised just how much the group had supported them during a difficult time. and so the Perinatal Peer Support Network was born.

The project is all about connecting women who have lived experience of giving birth in the pandemic and those who are preparing to do so. Using online spaces as well as physical ones, we aim to reach across communities and unite birthing people in their common held goal – for a safe, positive, empowered birth experience. We will work to build confidence through education, reduce stress through social connection, increase mental well-being through self-esteem, develop parenting competence and create strong, long-lasting friendships and peer support.

The Zoom group is an hour long and begins with a quick round of introductions and sharing of any issues that week. Sometimes people feel uncertain how about much they’ll have to share and the answer is only as much as you’re comfortable with. Topics can be discussed without personal details being shared if that’s more comfortable for you, but many women find the safe space and confidentially inside The Nest gives them some space to talk things through.

When we meet in person the session is an hour and a half long to give time for plenty of tea drinking! The format is the same as the zoom group: talking about current issues and exploring options but there’s also space for some simple craft activities.

Things that we’ve talked about recently include (but not limited to): iron deficiency, birth plans, placental injection, vaginal examinations in labour, positive birth company, exercise after pregnancy, shared parental leave, benefits of COVID and pregnancy.… and more!

Please share the news of the PPSN with any local pregnant people, and if you’re pregnant yourself – sign up and come along. The kettle is on and the door is open <3

Get in touch to find out more or book into a future session:

This project has been made possible by The National Lottery

Published by Hazel Acland

Director of The Nest SW social enterprise Women's circle facilitator Doula Writer Mum

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