Mums in Edinburgh Neonatal unit to receive support from dedicated Perinatal Mental Health Support Service


Mums in the Neonatal unit in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh are to benefit from a dedicated Perinatal Mental Health Support Service which will match mothers with highly trained perinatal befrienders.

Aberlour Perinatal Mental Health Support Service

Aberlour Children’s Charity has secured funding which is enabling them to pilot an expansion of their successful Perinatal Mental Health Befriending Service with an experienced perinatal co-ordinator based at the hospital.  The support will be accessible to mums with premature and unwell babies in the unit from Monday 9th May.

Three years ago, Aberlour recognised the need to support and improve the mental health of perinatal women and their children and set up a Perinatal Befriending Support Service for those who live within the East Lothian community. The service helps mothers and mothers-to-be who are struggling with anxiety, isolation and depression in pregnancy, and after their baby is born up to the age of 12 months. It does this by matching mothers with highly-trained volunteer perinatal befrienders, who offer practical and emotional support to help tackle poor mental health and wellbeing

Since it launched the service has supported 130 women, 134 babies and siblings and has recruited and delivered specialised perinatal befriending training to 67 befrienders in East Lothian.

Having a new perinatal co-ordinator based at the hospital means that more mums from all over the Lothians and other health boards will be given additional emotional and practical support when they need it most. The co-ordinator will build positive relationships, provide an emotional listening ear and when necessary signpost to appropriate services within the mums’ own communities.

Katy Ruggeri, Associate Director of Midwifery, Maternity, Gynaecology and Neonatal services at NHS Lothian, said: “We are thrilled that a Perinatal Mental Health Co-ordinator has been appointed and we welcome this innovative service from Aberlour. Mums who have babies in the Neonatal unit can be very fragile and having a dedicated Perinatal Co-ordinator who fully understands the challenges mums can face by providing additional support will be invaluable.”

Emma Cashmore-Gordon, Service Manager for Aberlour Perinatal Mental Health service said: “Having worked with women through their perinatal period for the past three years in East Lothian, we know what a difference our service makes to them as well as the lives of their families. We are so pleased that we can take this to the next level and provide support to mums throughout the whole of the Lothian region.

“This development is however a pilot, and we are seeking vital external funding to ensure continuity of our service to provide crucial support to families and secure employment for our staff. Any suggestions or assistance that can be given to help secure funding will be greatly appreciated.”

One mum who has received support from the service, said: “It’s a lifeline. Someone to listen to my crazy chat and have crazy normal chat with me! I’d be lost without my befriender. She is incredible, she juggles so much yet still has the time to speak with me and help me. She is amazing and she gets me through this difficult time.”

For more information about the service please contact:  Emma Cashmore Gordon, Service Manager

emailing her at: enquiries@aberlour.org.uk or calling 01875 632055.