Posted on: 21 April 2023

“Infants map their world from birth based on their experience and their experiences with caregivers. This provides the basis for their representation of self and others.”

Dr Rose Spencer (Deputy Lead Principal Perinatal Psychologist), Claire Hargrave (Perinatal Nurse Consultant) and Debbie Jeffery (Specialist Perinatal Community Occupational Therapist) joined us for the latest Year of the Child event.

They outlined the importance of infant mental health and how they help caregivers in relationships with their children. They also touched on child safeguarding and how the Perinatal Service identifies babies at risk.

Claire said: “Good infant mental health increases the chances of babies being able to achieve their potential later in life. It lays the groundwork for children’s ongoing social and emotional development, with the impacts showing children are less likely to need support with their mental health as teenagers but they are also more able to get a job, parent themselves, and contribute to society as an adult.”

The team talked about the support they provide to caregivers and parents, and the factors as to why they may not be able to do respond to or identify what their babies needs are, including ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) such as domestic abuse, mental illness or substance abuse.

“67% of the population have at least one ACE,” says Rose. “If a parent has had a very difficult experience in their childhood they may not have the template to parent themselves.”

Debbie explained the variety of interventions offered by the Perinatal Service, including different groups and one to one support for caregivers.

“One of our most successful groups in Milton Keynes is called the Circle of Security Parenting. It promotes secure attachment between the carer and the child, helping caregivers understand their child’s emotional world. A lot of the Mums who have attended said this has been lifechanging.”

The service also offers weekly walking groups.

  • Watch back the session here
  • Download the information pack
  • Find out more about CNWL’s Perinatal Mental Health Service here
  • See the upcoming Year of the Child events by visiting this page