The NHS website has lots of advice and information regarding pregnancy, including all you need to know about trying for a baby, pregnancy, labour and birth.
There is also a section on advice for things you might need support with during your pregnancy, including: teenage pregnancy support, domestic abuse in pregnancy, having a baby that might be born with a condition and when pregnancy goes wrong such as miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, birth trauma or the death of a baby. Visit the NHS pregnancy support page for more information.
The LMNS works with lots of great organisations in North East London who are working in our communities to support pregnant people and families.
A Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) is a group of parents, maternity staff and funders who work together to improve maternity services. The group is parent-centred, working together to design services and improve communication, whilst keeping parent feedback at the heart of what they do.
The MVP carries out outreach in the community as well as in hospitals to ensure they are hearing what parents are experiencing and how services can be improved so they can feed it back to North East London Local Maternity and Neonatal System.
See below for more information about the different MVPs in our region:
A ‘Maternity Mate’ is a female volunteer trained by the charity Women’s Health and Family Services, to provide practical and emotional support to women during pregnancy, childbirth and the early weeks of motherhood.
Everyone deserves to feel supported during their pregnancy, birth and postnatal period. We know having a baby is a life changing experience and you don’t have to do it alone Whether you’re a first-time parent or have been through pregnancy before, Maternity Mates are here for you.
Maternity Mates are local women, from Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest, with training and experience who are passionate about supporting pregnant people to thrive as they transition into life with their new babies. They can help you as you prepare for your baby, navigate maternity care and be there during your labour and birth. Support can start any time from the 5th month of pregnancy, through to birth and up to either 6 or 12 weeks after the baby is born (6 weeks in Tower Hamlets and 12 weeks in Newham).
Maternity Mates can also help after birth, to guide on feeding and bonding with your baby after they’re born and connect you with other local services, like children’s centres.
Maternity Mates are able to support pregnant women who are isolated, without a support network or have specific health needs. This might include:
- Single mums who do not have family or friends to offer support
- Women new to the UK without access to support from family or friends
- Women who have had a previous traumatic birth
- Women currently experiencing domestic or sexual violence
- Women with substance misuse issues
- Women affected by mental health issues like anxiety or depression
- Women who do not have a good command of the English language
- Women in temporary accommodation or who are homeless
If you are living and giving birth in Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets or Newham, we are here to support you from your 5th month of pregnancy. For more information about ‘Maternity Mates’ or to make a referral, visit their website. If you have any questions, please call 020 7377 8725.
Birth Companions is a women’s charity dedicated to tackling inequalities and disadvantage during pregnancy, birth and early motherhood. They work to improve the lives of women and babies by working to create positive change in the maternity, criminal justice, social services and immigration systems.
The women supported by Birth Companions face many difficulties which can often make the birth of their baby a time of anxiety, stress and hardship. These can include being in contact with the criminal justice system, involvement with social services, immigration issues, homelessness, poverty, mental ill-health and a history of domestic violence or sexual abuse.
Led by and for women they provide practical and emotional support through services in prisons and the community. Many of those supported go on to join the Lived Experience Team; a group of over 40 women who are committed to drawing on their experiences in research and policy work.
For more information about Birth Companions, visit their website.
Baby Buddy, is a free app from the parenting charity, Best Beginnings. It’s designed to help parents give their child the best start in life, with bite sized information and advice from pregnancy, to birth, to their babies first year.
Working in partnership with The Royal London Hospital, Homerton University Hospital, Whipps Cross Hospital, Newham Hospital and Queen’s Hospital, the app now features bespoke information from each of the maternity units. This means pregnant people who are booked to give birth in north east London can access additional details about their maternity unit, including; specialist maternity services offered, maternity helpline and antenatal and postnatal clinic phone numbers, visitor and parking information for birth partners and links to their local Maternity Voices Partnership.
The app has birth planning tools, a personal child health record for growth, vaccinations, appointments and other development milestones and daily personalised content for mums, dads and non-birthing co-parents. With information available 24/7, the Baby Buddy app echoes midwife advice and guidance, endorsed by health professionals* and approved by the NHS. With personal care and support plans, parents can make informed choices about care for themselves and their babies, improving experience from pregnancy to babies first birthday.
By registering for the app with your North East London postcode, you will automatically be provided with localised content’
To download or for more information visit the Baby Buddy website.
*Baby Buddy is endorsed by Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists, British Society of Paediatric Dentistry and Faculty of Public Health.
FAQs – your Baby Buddy questions answered
- What sort of information is on there?
Loads of bite sized advice and information to take you from pregnancy through to birth and into your babies first year. There is information for dads, a space to create your personal care and support plan. You can look up information about local maternity services and keep a record of your babies’ growth, vaccinations and developmental milestones.
- Is it for me or for my baby?
Both! And for other parents and care givers too. Baby Buddy shares information and practical skills to give knowledge and confidence to pregnant people and new parents, for the first five years of their baby’s life.
- Who can use the Baby Buddy app?
Whether you’re a mum, dad, co-parent or caregiver, Baby Buddy gives you the knowledge, confidence and practical skills to look after your baby, giving them the best start in life.
You can even add multiple children and pregnancies to your personalised account and share child records and create shared spaces with other users of the app.
- I’m a dad, can I use it too?
Yes. With personalised daily information for Dads from pregnancy until your baby is 1 year old. Information for dads and co-parents will be slightly different to mums but why not use it as a chance to share what you have learnt.
- I’m a LGBTQ+ parent, can I use it too?
Yes. Baby Buddy have widened their support for LGBTQ+ parents with a new personalised daily information journey for Mums with a female partner and Mums with a non-binary partner. Users can select the pronouns that Baby Buddy uses to refer to your partner. The team at Baby Buddy are working hard to continue improving Baby Buddy to be as inclusive as possible.
- Do I have to sign up with my personal details?
Parents will need to sign up with a preferred name, email address and postcode for localised information. You can also create a Baby Buddy account using your NHS login. NHS login allows you to access different digital health and care services using the same account. You can read more about it on the NHS website.
Be assured data is stored safely and securely and not shared or sold to any third parties. Read Baby Buddy’s full privacy notice.
- Is it free?
Yes! Baby Buddy 2.0 is free to download, with no adverts, and no in-app purchases. The app is developed by Best Beginnings; a charity committed to empowering parents, co-parents and caregivers.
- How do I get it?
The Baby Buddy App is available, free, through Google Play, the App Store and the NHS Apps library.
- Is it in other languages?
Baby Buddy is currently only available in English, however designed with a literacy age of 9 means it’s easily accessible to those whose first language may not be English.
The eRedbook is a digital version of the paper red book you receive when your baby is born or at your antenatal appointment before the birth. Your eRedbook can help you to find out more about your baby’s development quickly and easily. You can record and track your baby’s weight and create a safe, long term record of your baby’s developmental milestones. It provides information on what tests, checks and immunisations are offered as part of the Healthy Child Programme. As the technology develops, further information will also be available allowing you to manage and maintain this record of information.
You can also access it online by visiting the eRedbook website and creating an account using your NHS login or signing up with your email.
If you are more than ten weeks pregnant or have a child under four, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk. You can also use your card to get free vitamin supplements.
To apply, you’ll be receiving one of the following benefits:
- Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
- Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)
You will also be eligible for Healthy Start if:
- you’re under 18 and pregnant, even if you are not claiming any benefits
- you claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are over 10 weeks pregnant
- you, your partner or your carer get Working Tax Credit run-on only after you have reported you’re working 16 hours or less per week
For more information, to see if you are eligible or to apply visit the NHS Healthy Start website.
The Women’s Experience Forum is open to all people receiving maternity care at any of our North East London maternity units. You can join a monthly discussion with Senior Midwives and maternity staff from across North East London to ask questions about your pregnancy and hear updates on maternity services in your area.
With staff from each of the maternity units in North East London there is always someone on hand to help answer your questions.
The forum is open for anyone to join and is hosted online using Zoom. It takes place on the last Wednesday of every month, from 11am-12pm.
You can join using the link and details below
Meeting ID: 830 5241 0697
Passcode: BABY (Please ensure ‘BABY’ is all capital letters)
For questions about the forum email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary notes from previous forums
Outside of the NHS there are lots of organisations, charities and community groups offering a range of support services to pregnant people and new people. Below are a list of some those endorsed by the NHS
- Family Action – support for parents and carers. Call 0808 802 6666 or text 07537 404 282 Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm.
- Family Lives – provides information, advice, guidance and support on any aspect of parenting and family life. Their helpline number is 0808 800 2222
- Family Rights Group – provides parents or other relatives with advice about their rights and options when social workers or courts make decisions about their children’s welfare. Their advice line number is 0808 801 0366
- Gingerbread – provides single parents with advice and practical support. You can call the Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline on 0808 802 0925
- Relate – provides relationship support, including help for children and young people and help with family life and parenting
- Single Parents – provides single parents with help, advice and support
- YoungMinds for Parents – provides advice about mental health and behaviour problems in children and young people. You can call the parents’ helpline on 0808 802 5544