Extra help for Falkirk’s teen mums

Teen mums will get extra help with the US inspired scheme
Teen mums will get extra help with the US inspired scheme

Teenage mums will be given lessons on parenting thanks to a new US-inspired scheme introduced by NHS Forth Valley.

Specially-trained nurses will give one-to-one advice and support, following the success of a similar programme in America.

Each year around 120 babies are born to women under the age of 20 in the Forth Valley area.

Scotland has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in Western Europe, with young mums more likely to suffer mental health difficulties, have poor school or college attendance and live in poverty.

But the Family Nurse Partnership hopes to change that.

The scheme is open to expectant mothers aged 19 and under and aims to give their babies a healthier start in life.

The programme, which begins later this month, will involve weekly and fortnightly visits starting in pregnancy and continuing until the child’s second birthday.

It covers looking after and understanding babies, personal wellbeing and building positive relationships. Where possible the nurses will work with the baby’s father and wider family members and will also give advice on diet, education and employment.

Family Nurse supervisor Lorraine Newbigging is leading the new team. She said: “Being a parent is a challenge for most people, but being a teenage parent brings even greater challenges.

“Not only does the Family Nurse Partnership increase the likelihood of the young mum being able to go back to school or a job, but it can lead to greater involvement for fathers. In addition, the babies themselves are more likely to reach development milestones and be ready for when they go to school. It is a fantastic programme.”

The programme was created by Professor David Olds, a paediatrics specialist in Colorado, who found it improved pre-natal health, increased employment opportunities and encouraged better planning of future pregnancies.

The Family Nurse Partnership team consists of four nurses, a supervisor and a data manager. The nurses, who were already trained in nursing and midwifery, have undergone 15 months intensive training at Masters level to cover pregnancy, toddler training and communication.

All teenage mothers will be eligible to join between the time of their 12-week scan until they are 28 weeks pregnant.