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bbystThe NSPCC has been running a new antenatal programme for vulnerable parents called Baby Steps, which aims to support mothers and fathers during pregnancy and in the weeks after birth.

The programme, developed by NSPCC working with Warwick University, is based on the latest science, theory and research. It has been developed to support mothers and fathers as they transition into parenthood, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between parents and the development of positive parent–infant relationships. It is hoped that the programme will improve the capacity of parents to care for and nurture their baby. The programme also seeks to strengthen parents’ support networks.

Key findings from the evaluation of the programme reported positive changes across a range of outcomes including:

  • Both mothers and fathers reported an increase in their attachment to their unborn baby.
  • Parents’ feelings of warmth towards their baby increased during the programme, but this change was greater for mothers than for fathers.
  • Mothers who completed Baby Steps reported lower rates of adverse birth outcomes (i.e. premature birth, low birth weight and Caesarean section) compared with the general population of parents, though it is not known whether this was representative of all mothers who attended the programme
  • Parents’ relationship satisfaction remained stable throughout the programme, for those who had the lowest levels of relationship satisfaction at the start of the programme their satisfaction improved.
  • Both mothers and fathers reported a decrease in anxiety between the start and the end of the programme.
  • Parents with moderate or high levels of depression reported a decrease in symptoms by the end of the programme.
  • Parents’ self-esteem had increased slightly by the end of the programme.

A summary of the Evidence Report can be accessed here.