Young expectant mothers across Norfolk to get life-enhancing advice from teenage parent champions
- Credit: PA
Teenage parents across Norfolk will receive extra emotional and practical support from this autumn through a new one-to-one service.
Six trained health professionals, called teenage parent champions, will offer advice on birth, breastfeeding, child development, and accessing support groups, among other areas, to expectant mothers and their partners from September.
The Teenage Parents' Pathway, led by Norfolk's Children and Young People's Health Services, is recruiting the teenage parent champions who will offer advice before babies are born up until they reach two-years-old.
Expectant mothers who are 19 or under before their children are born will be supported.
The Public Health-funded pathway project will run alongside Norfolk's family nurse partnership, also run by the Children and Young People's Health Services, commissioned by Norfolk County Council.
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Between 20-30pc of Norfolk's teenage parents in very vulnerable situations - about 160 families - are helped annually through the partnership.
It is hoped the pathway will help the county's remaining teenage parents.
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Michelle Ackroyd, from Children and Young People's Health Services, said: 'The new service is crucial because teenage parents feel vulnerable. The first year of a child's life is vital.'
She said children as young as 13 were supported by the partnership but the rate of teenage pregnancy had 'fallen significantly' in East Anglia.
Since 1999 the Norfolk conception rate has dropped significantly from 38.9 per 1,000 women aged between 15-17 to 21.3 per 1,000 in 2015.
Ms Ackroyd said young mothers needed support because they were more at risk of developing postnatal depression and had less confidence in going to antenatal and postnatal groups because of fears of being judged.
She added babies of teenage parents were more likely to develop more slowly than other infants.
Sarah Barnes, Public Health commissioning manager for children and young people at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Young parents need support to know how to raise happy responsible children and know how to deal with the day to day stresses of being a parent. By widening the offer to all teenage parents across Norfolk, the service will be able to support the improved life chances of young parents, their children and families.'