Major changes are planned for 2018 in the provision of maternity services in the UK that have emerged out of the National Maternity Review: Better Births chaired by Baroness Julia Cumberlege.

This represents a significant opportunity for Best Beginnings, creators of Baby Buddy, a free, multi-award winning app that is highly interactive.  It empowers pregnant women to hold onto their own journey and supports their confidence in making their own health and care choices.  Baby Buddy promotes the health of parents and their baby through pregnancy, birth and into early parenthood.

Baby Buddy has so far been embedded in 27 sites across the country. The Embedding Service trains healthcare professionals to become Professional Champions, and encourages use of the app as a central part of local perinatal care practice across multiple disciplines.

Embedding Services are now being extended to reach Community Champions: local lay people keen to promote maternal health and wellbeing in their own communities. Community Champions will support mums-to-be and new parents by encouraging self-care and helping to reducing health inequalities, building on existing community resources.  NICE has confirmed that “involving local communities, particularly disadvantaged groups, is central to local and national strategies for promoting health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities”[1].

Across the UK, Best Beginnings is building a collaborative network of over 700 professionals, local leaders and Parent Panel members, with some being involved in the local Maternity Voices Partnership. These individuals are keen to build local perinatal services that maximise choice, control, and reach to seldom heard communities such as Gypsies and Travellers, people whose first language is not English and those facing discrimination and prejudice.  

Best Beginnings has developed a series of teaching modules to support dovetailed, integrated local action that can engage these communities. These aim to educate frontline practitioners, local activist groupings and community leaders to help enhance the establishment of effective, inclusive and authentically co-created Local Maternity Systems.

By marrying Baby Buddy with community development, Best Beginnings is at the forefront of promoting co-created Local Maternity Services through the use of a digital tool.  This gives professionals, mums-to-be and Baby Buddy Champions the opportunity to be engaging as equals, all speaking the same accessible language about issues and concerns that Baby Buddy models so well. It is through such collaboration that health inequalities will be reduced, working towards giving every child in the UK the best start in life.  

[1] NICE (2016) Community Engagement Guidelines (NG44)