Email and text tips for mums and dads

Friday May 18 2012

“Parents will receive text message and email advice on how to bring up their children after David Cameron said it was ‘ludicrous’ that people get more training in driving a car,” the Daily Mail has reported.

The story, covered in much of the media, is based on the launch of a new interactive service providing information and advice to parents.

Why is this in the news?

Launched today by the prime minister David Cameron, the NHS Information Service for Parents gives mums, dads and parents-to-be advice on issues around staying healthy in pregnancy, preparing for birth and looking after their baby. It includes:

  • advice via email and text messages (SMS)
  • short film clips of advice from midwives and parents
  • online advice from the NHS

Why has this service been launched?

The three initiatives are reportedly being launched because of the impact a child’s care early in life has on their health, behaviour and ability to learn throughout their lives. A 2010 Department for Education survey of 2,319 parents of under-threes, found that 85% wanted practical help with caring for their baby.

What can mums and dads and parents-to-be expect from the service?

The free Information Service for Parents emails and texts contain NHS-approved advice and will be sent every week from five weeks pregnant through to four weeks after the birth of your baby. Fathers-to-be can sign up for advice specifically aimed at them. The email and text service is expected to offer more advice for parents of older children in the future.

The videos available from the Information Service for Parents demonstrate practical advice for parents and parents-to-be, including:

  • how much weight should I put on during pregnancy?
  • what’s involved in a caesarean section?
  • how do I know if I have postnatal depression? 
  • how can I get my baby to sleep?

There are already around 670,000 visits per month to the pregnancy and baby webpages on NHS Choices.

How can I sign up to this service?

Visit www.nhs.uk/parents to sign up to the service or find out more information. Alternatively, you can sign up at a midwife appointment or at pregnancy, child or parenting support organisations such as NCT, as well as a host of websites.

What else has been announced for parents today?

The NHS Information Service for Parents was announced alongside a trial of free parenting classes for all parents of children aged five years and under in:

  • Middlesbrough
  • High Peak (Derbyshire)
  • Camden (London)

Mums and dads will be able to use vouchers to pay for the parenting classes, which are being offered by a large group of children’s and parenting charities. These parenting class vouchers are available from Boots stores, children’s centres and health visitors.

The government has also launched a trial of subsidised relationship support sessions to help expectant mothers and fathers, and those with children up to the age of two. These sessions are being offered in York, Leeds, North Essex, Hackney and City of London, by Relate, The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and the Fatherhood Institute. The sessions are set to include help with:

  • managing new roles and responsibilities in your relationship
  • dealing with the emotional impact of having a child
  • learning negotiating and compromising skills
  • balancing your role as a parent and as a partner
  • coping with issues such as lack of sleep and mess

Analysis by Bazian
Edited by NHS Choices