An innovative initiative for younger people in Co. Mayo who are expecting a baby for the first time was officially launched on Wednesday, 2nd May at Mayo General Hospital. The Young Parents Programme was set up by staff in the Antenatal Education and Social Work Departments, who identified a need for a specialised programme of care to meet the specific needs of young parents-to-be. A new information leaflet, Antenatal Information and Advice for Young People in Co. Mayo, was also launched at the hospital this afternoon. The leaflet contains information about the Young Parents Programme and will be available in the community and in Mayo General Hospital.
HSE Young Parents Programme held in Mayo General Hospital A group of social workers L-R: Sarah McDonagh, Liz Burke, Mary Walsh, Gina Dermody, Leanne Halpin (Mother).. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2007.
The Young Parents Programme is a support service for young people becoming parents for the first time. There is a dedicated team at Mayo General Hospital who is available to support young people during and after their pregnancy. This support is available to young women, their partners and family members or carers
At the launch, Frances Burke, Childbirth Educator at MGH, said: Most of the pregnancies in women under 23 years of age are unplanned, and many are crisis pregnancies. Last year, 175 women in Mayo under age 23 became pregnant and 60 young women availed of the Young Parents Programme. Through the Programme, we aim to identify and meet the social and emotional needs of these women.
Also available for young parents-to-be is the YPP Antenatal Group, which runs for four weeks every fortnight for women up to the age of 23. An Antenatal Educator, Social Worker and Counsellor facilitate the group. The aim of the group is to provide information, support and advice to women on all aspects of their pregnancy, from antenatal care through to delivery and care after birth.
HSE Young Parents Programme held in Mayo General Hospital L-R: Tony Canavan (Manager Mayo General Hospital), Frances Burke (Childbirth Educator), Eliese Pourre, Janet Harte, Gina Dermody (Social Worker), Mary Sammon (Childbirth Educator) . Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2007.
Gina Dermody of the Social Work Department, says: We meet these young women in the early stage of pregnancy and build up a relationship with them. For most, it’s an unplanned pregnancy and many are still in school or college, so this can pose its own problems. Some find the usual antenatal classes too daunting, so the YPP antenatal sessions enable them to meet other mums-to-be of a similar age, who can understand and relate to what they’re going through.
Young women who have given birth at Mayo General Hospital also share their experiences during the YPP sessions. Elise, who has availed of the Young Parents Programme, says: When I found out I was pregnant, I was really worried. But it was great to meet others in the same position, and we were able to talk openly about how we felt. Even after the birth, we have ongoing contact with staff from the hospital to see how we’re getting on.
Workers from the Group for Young Mums (GYM) also provide information about their service. The group links women to services both within and outside the hospital. Support is also available to partners and family members outside of the group setting. Other services for parents-to-be at the hospital are the Crisis Pregnancy Counselling and Support Service, the Childbirth Education Service, the Social Work Service and the Antenatal Clinic.
At today’s launch, Hospital Manager Tony Canavan commended the staff involved in the Young Parents Programme for their innovation, enthusiasm and motivation. He added: "Last year there were around 1,700 babies delivered at Mayo General Hospital, and this is likely to increase each year. The Young Parents Programme is vital for young mothers-to-be who come to the Hospital looking for understanding and reassurance, as well as practical and antenatal advice. The Programme is a valuable addition to the ever-expanding services at Mayo General."
For more photos of the event check out Ken Wright's Photo Gallery
A couple of toddlers at the HSE Young Parents Programme held in Mayo General Hospital. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2007.