Pregnant mothers in Nottingham City, especially those concerned about catching covid, or suffering from covid, are gaining antenatal guidance from Support ME’s new free online antenatal course ‘Bump to Baby’.

Over 30 families have already enrolled on the free course, taking part in live workshops, online classes and a closed friendly Facebook group, all from the comfort of their own homes.

“This is my first experience with an antenatal course as I’m expecting my first child,” says a recently enrolled mum-to-be Zayna. “The course is really informative and very beneficial. So far, I’ve really enjoyed all of the content and the course layout is very clear, well-structured and organised. I’m looking forward to gaining more knowledge and feeling more confident for labour and afterbirth.”  

Support ME – a Nottingham-based grassroots organisation set up by Minority Ethnic mothers and birth workers – has created the course, providing much-needed support to mums-to-be across Nottingham City who are still living with the threats and anxiety of Covid. 

Many women in the perinatal period (during pregnancy and up to one year postpartum) are worried about the impact of COVID-19 exposure on themselves and their infants. The increased risk of COVID-19 infection in some minority ethnic groups has also been observed in the perinatal population [1]. 

Pregnant women with COVID-19 are at increased risk for hospitalisation and admission to an intensive care unit compared with non-pregnant women of reproductive age [1]. Moreover, a recent systematic review found a significant increase in maternal deaths, pre-eclampsia, cesarean deliveries, preterm birth, low birth weight, stillbirth and admissions to a neonatal intensive care unit in COVID-19 infected pregnant women compared with non-infected [2]. 

Moreover, rates of severe pregnancy-related complications and severe maternal illness and death rose significantly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, find two retrospective US studies published late last week in JAMA Network Open [3]. Support for parents during this pandemic era has never been so important. 

“As an antenatal teacher, I’ve always seen the lack of opportunity for communities from diverse ethnic and low-income households to access real comprehensive birth and postnatal education,” says Manisha Sheth, co-founder of Support ME. 

“Over 75% of those enrolled haven’t done an antenatal course before and nearly half of those have had a baby before. Over 70% don’t understand the physiology of birth and over 60% don’t feel they have the tools to manage their emotional wellbeing after birth.” 

“This programme goes through everything from pregnancy care and birth choices to managing emotional wellbeing and breastfeeding. We are very grateful to be able to positively change the lives of many people through education which we know is the right of every family.” 

With Nottingham City home to a multicultural community, alongside a breadth of economic disparity, including many deprived areas, this course aims to give all families equal opportunity to be educated. Alongside covid concerns being a barrier to accessing in-person antenatal classes and groups, other barriers include language, lack of income and not understanding the maternity system. Support ME seeks to overcome these issues by providing interculturally competent, empathetic and compassionate support to improve clinical and psychological outcomes for pregnant mums in Nottingham. 

Support ME encourages pregnant women in Nottingham City with high-risk pregnancies, mental health issues or those having to self-isolate to enrol on the free course.