Pregnancy and baby

Services and support for parents

What does a health visitor do?

Media last reviewed: 20/03/2014

Next review due: 20/03/2017

NHS services for new parents

Local authority services for parents

Local advice centres

Websites, helplines and other support for parents

Parent and baby groups

 

 

NHS services for new parents

Registering your baby with a GP

Register your baby with your GP as early as possible in case you need their help. You can use the pink card you'll be given when you register your baby's birth. Sign the card and take or post it to your GP.

You can contact your GP at any time, whether it's for you or your child. Some GPs will see small babies at the beginning of surgery hours or without an appointment, but be prepared to wait. Some will give advice over the phone. Most GPs have regular child health clinics.

If you want the GP to see your baby before you've registered the birth, you can go to the surgery and fill in a registration form there. If you move, register with a new doctor close to you as soon as possible.

Find out how to change your GP.

Find a GP in your area.

How your health visitor can help

A health visitor will usually visit you at home for the first time around 10 days after your baby is born. Until then you'll be under the care of your local midwives.

A health visitor is a qualified nurse who has had extra training. They're there to help you, your family and your new baby stay healthy.

Your health visitor can visit you at home, or you can see them at your child health clinic, GP surgery or health centre, depending on where they're based. They will make sure you've got their phone number.

If you're bringing up a child on your own or struggling for any reason, your health visitor can offer you extra support.

Talk to your health visitor if you feel anxious, depressed or worried. They can give you advice and suggest where to find help. They may also be able to put you in touch with groups where you can meet other mothers.

Child health clinics

Child health clinics are run by health visitors and GPs. They offer regular baby health and development reviews and vaccinations.

You can also talk about any problems to do with your child, but if your child is ill and likely to need treatment, it's best to see your GP.

Some child health clinics also run mother and baby, parent and toddler, breastfeeding, and peer support groups.

Local authority services

Sure Start Children's Centres

Children's centres are linked to maternity services.

They provide family health and support services, early learning, and full-day or temporary care for children from birth to five years.

They also provide advice and information for parents on a range of issues, from parenting to training and employment opportunities. Some have special services for young parents. 

Find your local Sure Start Children's Centre.

Family Information Service

Your local Family Information Service (FIS) aims to help you support your children by providing a range of information specifically for parents.

Each FIS has close links with children's centres, Jobcentre Plus, schools, careers advisers, youth clubs, and libraries. 

They offer information about local childcare services and availability, and can help you if you need childcare for a child with a disability or special needs.  

Find your local Family Information Service.

Local advice centres

Advice centres are non-profit agencies that give advice on issues such as benefits and housing.

They include Citizens Advice, community law centres, welfare rights offices, housing aid centres, neighbourhood centres, and community projects.

Look for them under these names in your phone book or under the name of your local authority.

To help you get the most out of services, remember:

  • Before you go, think about what you want to talk about and what information you can give that'll be helpful. Maybe jot these ideas down.
  • Unless your child needs to be with you, try to get a friend or neighbour to look after them so you can concentrate.  
  • If a problem is making life difficult or really worrying you, keep going until you get some kind of answer, if not a solution.
  • If you don't understand, say so. Go back over what they said to make sure you understand. It may help if they write it down for you.
  • If English isn't your first language, you may be able to get help from a link worker or health advocate. Ask your health visitor or staff at your local Sure Start Children's Centre if there's a link worker or health advocate in your area.

Websites, helplines and support groups for parents

Contact a Family

Support, advice and information for parents with disabled children.

Family Lives

An organisation providing immediate help from volunteer parent support workers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Family Rights Group

Support for parents and other family members whose children are involved with or need social care services.

Gingerbread: single parents, equal families

Help and advice on the issues that matter to lone parents.

Parent and baby groups

To find out about local groups:

  • ask your health visitor or GP
  • look on noticeboards and for leaflets at your local child health clinic, health centre, GP's waiting room, children's centre, library, advice centre, supermarket, newsagent, or toy shop

In some areas, there are groups that offer support to parents who share the same background and culture. Many of these are women's or mothers' groups.

Lots of children's centres also run fathers' groups and groups for teenage parents. Your health visitor may know whether there are any groups like these near you.

Page last reviewed: 07/01/2016

Next review due: 07/01/2018

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