The Mother and Baby Unit at The Mount is an eight bed unit. It’s a regional service covering the whole of Yorkshire and Humber. So it allows for admission of the mother along with her baby if admission is required and the needs of the mother and baby can’t be met at home.

But when mothers are admitted to the Mother and Baby Unit, they’ll be shown around the ward. They’ll be introduced to the staff and any other mothers that are on the unit at the time. They’ll be shown the different facilities that we have and made to feel as comfortable as they can. 

We have a play area, we have a quiet space that isn’t the same as the communal lounge, it’s a bit quieter, we have a lovely conservatory, we have a small outdoor area, a communal lounge, a dining room that’s quite large with space and it’s just really a unit that’s designed for mums to have babies with them.

The care plan is a really essential part for our mums when they come to the unit. Each mum is assigned a nursery nurse and we create that care plan and the rest of the team follows by it. They are very person-centred and it’s very much based on the needs of the mother. When they’re first admitted they may require a high level of support. The support is gradually reduced as they become more confident and are able to do more for their babies. The ongoing care plan will be updated regularly and discharge plans will gradually be put in place. Once mothers are discharged, they’ll be followed up by a community nurse from the perinatal team. The outreach community nurse can see them for up to 3 months, but there’ll also be other involved professionals which will have longer, ongoing input.

A question that we may get asked a lot is what happens day-to-day on the unit. Sometimes it’s really important, you know, for mums to wake up and have a structure and know what they’re going to do for the rest of the day. Equally it’s really important to have that space to have, either with the babies or on their own as well.

We’ve just done training in infant massage, we do a creative writing group, we have an outpatient group, we have jabadao, we have a peer volunteer support group, we have staff trained in cognitive behavioural therapy we are training staff at the minute in Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, we have a walking for fitness group because we know there’s the benefit of staying physically fit along with positive mental health and wellbeing. The creative writing group’s run by a writer called Rommi Smith. The main aim of the 6 or 7 week course is empowering women. The staff in the group, we all join in and that I think gives the group quite a good strength, that we’re not sitting back and expecting the mums to share things when we’re not sharing. One of the interventions we use is something called video interaction guidance which involves filming mothers and their baby together and then looking at that together and picking out interactions that are going well, what mother’s picking up on and that can often highlight how well a mother is doing and also ways that that might be enhanced. Often mothers will say they feel like a mother now. A lot of mums say they don’t know how to play with their babies. So we bring them into the playroom and just do it with them, just sit with them, support them and just do that really as many times as it’s needed.

People worry about whether the family will be able to spend time on the ward. We’re very flexible and happy for family to be here for whatever’s helpful for the mum at that time. Where the mum wants the involvement, we encourage fathers, significant other family members to be involved in decision making. The father’s involvement in the process is really important. They can do all the sessions with us, they can do the play sessions, the yoga and the massage. It’s really hard when you have to come into hospital after you’ve had a baby, to be able to be a mum and to think kind of in a normal sort of way about how your baby’s doing and how that new relationship is progressing and getting on. It’s quite a tough experience for a new baby to have to be in hospital with your mum who’s really unwell but what we know, is that the outcomes for mums and for babies are so much better when we can keep the mums and babies together.

We all love seeing people get well, go home and we make it the best experience we can. More people are here at a time in their lives when nobody wants to be in hospital. We know it’s not the perfect environment. It’s a privilege to watch a mother come in, to work with a traumatised family and to see them slowly recover and take those really tentative steps back home again. And what really makes us all smile is when somebody comes back, and mothers do, families do, they come back a couple of years later and this tiny babe in arms that you’ve seen grow, maybe fed, changed their nappy, comes haring, tearing through the unit as a toddler, and you’re just like, yeah, you can’t really put it in words, it’s great yeah.