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

Happy LBT+ women’s health week!

Happy LBT+ women’s health week!

Here at the Nest Southwest we strive to be inclusive and take seriously the need for positive allies when supporting lesbian, bisexual and trans women’s health.  This week is LBT+ women’s health week and this blog post is to provide clarity on our position to create a safe and welcoming community.

Research shows that there are higher rates of mental health issues for LGBT+ people than cis or straight people due to repeated discrimination,  and intersectional issues can sadly cause more suffering. While it is unlawful under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 for anyone to be discriminated against in the provision of any good, facility or service because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, we’ve heard stories of some lesbian / bisexual mums-to-be that struggle with the standard form filling when there is not a box that represents, their situation and find themselves crossing out the box that says dad and adding a second mum. As a small organisation The Nest has the ability to be very responsive to our community needs. We are here to listen to what women want, and find out how we can support them, including signposting and sharing resources. For example, this fantastic resource provides information for lesbians who are interested in becoming parents, and can help service providers better understand the needs of lesbians.

Photo by Barcelos_fotos on

The Nest’s mission is to inform, support  & empower women and girls through menstruation, childbirth and menopause. We proudly welcome LBT+ and BAME women to join our Nest community and strive to create a space where they can feel welcome. We have clear policy of inclusivity and welcome positive feedback on how we can improve our services to be more LBT+ and BAME friendly.

We pledge to treat all our service users with the dignity and respect they deserve. We will not tolerate transphobia, biphobia or any kind of systemic discrimination. 

Our Pregnancy Well-being Zoom group is open to all people who are pregnant, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identify. Our monthly Red Tent event is for all people who identify as women. Our menstrual Well-being workshops are aimed at people of all genders. And as we add more events we engage with our local community to become inclusive, fun and supportive.

We say NO to transphobia, biphobia, racism, sexism and violence.

We say YES to kindness, peace, equality and love.

 If you are a LBT+ and / or BAME woman and would like to get involved in our strategy and policy development please get in touch.

#LBTWomensHealth21 #thenestsw #womensrights

Our First Blog Post

I discovered I always have choices and sometimes it’s only a choice of attitude.

– Judith M. Knowlton

Our First Blog Post

Hello! This is our first blog post here at The Nest. For the past year we have been finding our feet, and mostly using our Facebook page as a place to share news and views. But 2021 has lots of plans and it feels like time to open this forum as a place to expand and share stuff that’s going on, dreams of the future and updates as they happen.

Let me take this opportunity to give a bit of background to who and why we are. We formed this social enterprise, not-for-profit, community interest company back in October 2019. Myself (Hazel) along with Jodie and Nancy came together because we wanted to bring together these different stages of life in a holistic and cohesive way. When we were thinking of a name we listed some of the things we wanted people to feel when they participated with us… these were things like feeling warm, welcomed, respected, finding connection, feeling nature connection… and we talked about how a nest held all those things and could become a sanctuary from the world. a place to rest before flying on your way. And so, ‘The Nest Southwest CIC’ was born.

Unlike a regular business whose main purpose is generally to maximise profits for owners or stakeholders, a social enterprise focus’ on positive social change in the world – a business with a vision. And this vision is built on our personal sets of values. These values are an integral part of everything we do, they are:

  • Building Connections – to self, to other and to the wider world
  • Respect
  • Nurture and compassion

Our vision is of a cohesive society where rites of passage have the power to connect us compassionately to each other and the planet.

Our mission is to inform, support and empower peer support through menstruation, pregnancy & birth and menopause. We do this through holding peer support groups, raising awareness through communication, reducing landfill waste by starting a library of things and promoting reusable sanitary products, running educational classes and building partnerships with local organisations.

We are currently offering a weekly drop-in Pregnancy & Birth Well-being support group on Friday evenings 6.30pm – 7.30pm. We also run a Pregnancy Yoga class on a Monday evening. And a monthly Red Tent. Get in touch to find out more and join in. There’s no waiting list and all local Devon people are welcome.