Three midwives have been seconded to Luton children’s centres to provide evidence-based antenatal classes based on Birth and Beyond five themes (Barlow, 2010). Sessions are delivered to couples from 28 weeks of pregnancy and run over five consecutive weeks in Luton’s children’s centres, offering localised, universal provision and access for vulnerable groups. Each session is two hours long, co-facilitated by children’s centre midwives and children’s centre co-ordinators or Family Workers.
The co-facilitated approach provides support to children’s centre staff to build confidence and expertise in delivery of sections of the programme. Running the course within children’s centres provides an early introduction to children’s centre services, and once parents have completed the sessions they are encouraged to integrate with children’s centre activities such as Bumps and Babies groups or adult education. Once their babies are born a further ‘week 6’ session is offered, a return to a Baby Babble or Baby group within the children’s centre to all meet at a reunion. This gives opportunity for children’s centre midwives to gain feedback on the content of the previous sessions and outcomes, and for parents to further develop a relationship with the children’s centre. Week 6 sessions vary according to each centre, for example children’s Centre Dieticians may attend to give information on weaning. Follow up visits are also offered for debriefing of labour events and to gain information on key public health targets such as breastfeeding.
In order to ensure sustainability of the project children’s centre midwives are training the Community Midwifery team to deliver sessions 1 and 2, the health visiting team to deliver session 3, and the infant feeding team to deliver session 4. Sessions 5 and 6 will be delivered by children’s centre outreach workers. It is expected that once staff are confident in the delivery of the programme the sessions will become part of their everyday workload, and no longer a bespoke project.