A Ramsgate hypnobirthing therapist has published a guidebook to help parents look after their mental health.
Sophie Burch, who is The Mamma Coach specialising in everything from hypnobirthing and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy to baby massage and aromatherapy, says lockdown, financial worries and stress are all impacting parents.
The mum of four boys hopes Beyond Birth, which is a programme designed to bridge the support gap, will help parents to cope.
The guidebook, course, online group and class is full of tips, tools and techniques for parents to help themselves and avoid unravelling. It focuses on teaching how to protect and preserve good mental health and take people through every area of becoming a new parent and what they can do to help them cope when things are tough. It covers emotions, connection, sleep, stress, relationships, identity and more.
Sophie has some 15 years of experience as a coach and therapist after parenthood prompted her to make a career change.
The former singer, who clinched two number ones in the classical album charts with her group Medieval Babes, has run a varied parenthood gauntlet – including initially being told she would never have children.
The medical prediction has since been disproved four times over and Sophie uses those experiences – which include undergoing C section and a lack of specialised support when her two premature twins were in the special care baby unit – alongside her qualifications to help other parents on their journey.
She said: “New parents’ mental health is suffering and anxiety is at an all-time high as coronavirus hits families hard. Millions are now experiencing poor mental health because of the effects of social distancing, lockdown and the over-consumption of stress-inducing media reports, and thousands are falling through the cracks because of fragmented and poorly funded social services.
“This pandemic needs to be treated as the mental health crisis it is. Although we all thought that fear of getting sick would be the biggest cause of stress, it’s not: the stress of financial uncertainty and hardship, loneliness and the loss of physical and emotional support is. “Parenting in particular has never been so lonely and isolating. It’s clear that parents are struggling and there isn’t the help available that they desperately need.
“Specialist therapies and counselling are fantastic, but may not be necessary, realistic or accessible for everybody. Sadly, the system is unable to support thousands of people and their children and the number of cases is growing daily.
“Beyond Birth promotes and supports parents with their mental wellbeing by showing them how to look after themselves from pregnancy and beyond. Parents often put their child or children’s emotional and physical needs before their own.
“Beyond Birth teaches them how to reconnect with those around them, via online or in-person groups by giving them access to a range of materials such as simple mindfulness and visualisation audios, guided relaxation and breathing techniques, reflective Q&As, self-care techniques, journaling prompts, poetry, an online Facebook community, affirmations, workbooks, resources, dads and partners tips and signposting, experts’ tips, online expert Q&As and free downloads.”
The programme has trained practitioners who already teach classes such as baby massage and baby yoga. Group leaders will teach everything that is in the book to parents without them having to read it – they can experience it instead.
Each week a new topic is introduced and the group takes part in exercises and activities.
Sophie, who is a board member and trainer with Perinatal Mental Health CIC and moved to Ramsgate with husband Phil and family five years ago, added: “Parents are models for their children so it’s really important that we talk about and demonstrate our ability to manage difficult things in life to reduce the stigma around mental health for future generations.
“Dealing with these uncomfortable, unsettling feelings now will reduce mental health problems in the months and even years following the pandemic. Beyond Birth helps parents parent themselves so they can be more consciously aware and balanced for their children and better equipped to weather the Covid-19 storm and beyond.”
Beyond Birth was set up in November 2019 by Sophie Burch to help families with their mental wellbeing and long-term family mental health. She created an ebook guide and then ran local group sessions for new mums up until the pandemic hit.
Sophie moved her groups online to reach more parents. In a bid to grow Beyond Birth to support even more parents, she began to train other practitioners, from trained psychologists, midwives and Occupational Therapists, to breastfeeding supporters and social workers to hypnobirthing, baby massage, pregnancy yoga and sing-and-sign teachers. All of these trained practitioners run virtual or in-person groups and 1:1’s in their communities.
Sophie is now seeking investment to increase reach and train more community and grass-roots practitioners working with parents in the first 1001 days. She is also collaborating with PMH Training CIC Dr Jane Hanley and Mark Williams because the programme is for dads and partners just as much as it is for mums.
Get the guide
The guide is either an ebook online via The Mamma Coach website by clicking here: Cost is £10
Or via Amazon in colour at £24.99 by clicking here
Or black and white £12.99 by clicking here:
There are 15 audios available via the Mamma Coach website that accompany the guide. £1 from every guide sold goes to Pandas Foundation perinatal mental health charity.
The online sessions with other practitioners are bookable via Happity here: https://www.happity.co.uk/
Practitioner training information is here: https://www.themammacoach.com/training-practitioners and is either live online or online self paced training.