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Posted by
Steve Hemsley
19.02.16

Insider information on why peer support for parents works


On paper, it may appear that parents receive a wealth of support from agencies, local groups and charities. But, research shows that parents often feel isolated and lacking in the information that can support their family.

There is one simple way you can change that for yourself.

Whether a first-time mum or caring for triplets, suffering from post-natal depression or a traumatic birth, or even because you simply feel cut off from family and friends who are not experiencing parenthood in the same way – receiving direct support from other parents is the way forward.

Research into peer-to-peer (or mum-to-mum) mentoring shows that connections made during these hard times can really help struggling parents. In study after study, researchers find that peers are more empathetic and place less pressure on parents than family or professionals.

The benefits extend beyond gaining a new friend. For adolescent mums, “the duration of exclusive breastfeeding was increased.” For postpartum depression, “Telephone-based peer support may effectively decrease depressive symptomatology among new mothers.” Particularly for women at high risk, “peer support can be effective in preventing postnatal depression.” And, it was especially helpful for first time mothers where professionals are encouraged to “acknowledge the significant contribution of social support.”

Even better, it isn’t just struggling parents that benefit. In a Bristol study on peer support for breastfeeding, “peer supporters found the contacts rewarding, enjoyable and important for mothers”.

Rewarding. Enjoyable. Important.

You can access that support. You can be that support.

Here is how:

  1. Don’t carry on alone. You don’t have to. Resources, people and community support is there. Don’t wait for a referral, search on our site to find what you need now.
  2. Join us and our community of parents. We will tailor the connections we find you to the issues you care most about.
  3. Taking the first step to reach out can feel daunting, but remember that all parents feel insecure and out-of-place at some point. It is when we come together that those worries fade.
  4. So, take the opportunity to meet parents in a similar situation to you. Talking to professionals is one thing, and a good thing, but chatting over coffee to someone who really “gets” it is another.
  5. Finally, come back and support other parents. When you use your knowledge and skills to support others, you build your own confidence. You will find it as rewarding, enjoyable and important as other parents do.