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Ground breaking programme Coping with Crying launches to help support new parents with the stresses of a crying baby

Thursday, 03 July, 2014
Ground breaking programme Coping with Crying launches to help support new parents with the stresses of a crying baby

Over 7,500 new and expectant parents are set to benefit from a new programme called Coping with Crying which launches in the region today (6 May 2014).

Coping with Crying is a pilot programme that aims to support new and expectant parents with the stress that they can feel when their baby cries. The programme involves showing them a powerful new film about caring for a crying baby.

The pilot, which is taking place in Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside, will involve health visitors from Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and community midwives from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust showing the film to new and expectant parents during home visits.

Looking after a crying baby can be challenging and parents can sometimes struggle to soothe their baby. Concerns about babies’ crying are one of the most common reasons that new parents seek help from professionals.  When their baby cries, it is common for parents to feel frustrated, and in the worst cases they can lose their temper and harm their baby. The NSPCC estimate that around 200 babies a year in the UK suffer from serious head injuries as the result of being shaken, hit or thrown(1). Evidence shows that crying is often a trigger for this sort of harm.

The NSPCC film provides parents with a range of supportive tips and advice about soothing a baby and managing their own stress. It also tells them about the dangers of shaking a baby. It was created in partnership with experts at Warwick Medical School and Great Ormond Street Hospital, and is based on a similar programme in America which reduced the number of babies who suffered from non-accidental head injuries by nearly half.

Helen Lamont, Nursing and Patient Services Director, from Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:  “Ensuring the safety of every patient in our care, whatever their age or background, is something we take extremely seriously. This is particularly important for the most vulnerable of patients and new babies are no exception. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work in collaboration with NSPCC to raise awareness of situations which can suddenly arise when parents find it difficult to cope with a crying baby. Being part of the new ‘Coping with Crying’ programme will help us to support parents and safeguard babies, wherever possible.

“Although the programme will mainly be delivered by health staff, here in Newcastle we have adopted a multi- agency approach to delivering ‘Coping with Crying’ to ensure where there are difficulties with access to certain families, other agencies can step in to support the process. This way, we hope to achieve a wide delivery across the city.”

Janice McNichol, head of midwifery at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We fully understand that caring for a new-born baby can be extremely stressful – particularly for new parents – and we are committed to providing the highest quality support to mums and their partners.

“Our community midwives are parents’ first port of call following the birth and offer expert advice on how best to care for their baby.

“We are always looking at research and finding new ways of helping to safeguard our most vulnerable patients and have been using the NSPCC’s ‘Handle with Care’ leaflet for more than a year.

“We are delighted to work in partnership with them on this pilot and provide an additional resource to help parents cope with a crying baby while raising awareness of the potential risks of these situations.”

Over the last two years the NSPCC has been running this programme in 24 hospitals and birthing units and over 30,000 parents have now seen the film. The NSPCC’s evaluation results suggest that the film is helping to keep babies safe. Ninety-nine per cent of parents in our evaluation remembered the film at least six months after watching it. Eighty-two per cent said they used advice from the film when caring for their baby. The rate of reported injuries amongst babies with feeding, sleeping or crying difficulties was lower if their parents had seen the film.

Chris Cuthbert, Head of Strategy and Development for the NSPCC, said:  “This is a ground-breaking new programme based on the best international evidence. It is a relatively simple and low cost intervention, and our evaluation shows that it is helping parents to manage the pressures of new parenthood and soothe their baby. It is critically important that we support families to reduce stress during the significant life changes that accompany the birth of a new baby. We are proud to be extending the programme to many more areas.”

Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:  “We’re delighted to see such promising results from the evaluation of this programme and are proud of our work supporting the NSPCC by jointly developing and hosting online training for midwives. Midwives see first-hand the stress and worry that parents experience when their baby cries, and need to support parents through this. Everyone looking after a baby needs to know that shaking can have very serious consequences. The NSPCC film helps midwives to communicate this important but difficult message.”

Coping with Crying will now test how the film can be shown at different times in settings outside hospitals, such as in antenatal education classes or postnatal home visits. Nineteen areas of the UK are involved in this exciting extension to the project, which is estimated to reach at least 45,000 parents in the next 18 months. The programme will be evaluated to find out when mums and dads are most receptive to the film’s messages and where they can have most impact.