Midwives are being asked to encourage parents-to-be to sign up to the new NHS Information Service for Parents
It provides regular emails and free SMS messages offering high-quality NHS advice in bite-size chunks, and signposting to other quality-assured information.
Cathy Warwick, RCM chief executive, said: ‘We warmly welcome this innovative online and multi-media service for parents.
‘We hope that the email and text alerts will bolster the work that midwives do with women and their families by providing additional information that will empower and signpost parents to further appropriate sources of support and help.
‘We know that pregnancy and maternity care are in many cases the first time most parents will interact with the health service and this presents a unique opportunity to provide health promoting messages to families.
‘This is why good quality information, which this service promotes, during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period can have a significant long-term impact on the health and well-being of mothers and babies.’
The service provides tailored information to mothers and fathers and offers up-to-date material from NHS Choices, the Pregnancy Care Planner and the Birth to Five guide.
It covers a wide range of issues, including: how a baby develops, finding antenatal classes, improving their own health and breastfeeding.
The service complements face-to-face consultations with health professionals and reinforces the health messages given.
It can be accessed by ‘smart’ phones, standard mobile phones or web, and midwives are able to access the service and provide feedback.
This service is announced alongside free parenting classes to all parents of children aged five years and under in three trial areas – Middlesbrough, High Peak in Derbyshire and Camden in London.
Mothers and fathers will be able to use vouchers, available from Boots and other organisations to pay for the classes.
The National Childbirth Trust, Save the Children, and the Fatherhood Institute are among those delivering classes.