Mum-of-four and registered nurse RACHEL DEVEREUX gave birth to twins during the pandemic and is passionate about helping parents with their mental health and wellbeing. She is one of the founders of Huddersfield-based Parent Sanctuary which is about to start Post-Partum Project sessions for the parents of babies under three months old. Here she explains what it’s all about.

Having a new baby is such an exciting time for parents. There is so much to plan for, how to set the nursery up, pregnancy fitness classes to help keep your body in reasonable shape whilst you grow, which pram you like the best. And, of course, preparing yourself for labour and birth.

Antenatal education is fantastic. It helps you to prepare for birth, outlines your options for hospital care and pain relief, and runs through some of the key new skills that you’ll need to care for your baby once they arrive.

It sets you up with a great understanding of how life will be with a hypothetical baby. But then the real baby comes along, and you’re faced with a whole host of new challenges.

Combine these new challenges with lack of sleep, hormonal changes and the 24/7 responsibility of a new child to care for and you potentially have a really difficult situation.

You’re awake at all hours, asking Dr Google what colour your baby’s poo is meant to be, trying to make sense of your baby’s crying, and trying to find some kind of pattern to their sleep.

The first three months of your baby’s life is often referred to as the “Fourth Trimester.” It’s a huge period of adjustment for many parents – especially when it’s your first baby. And there is currently very little support for parents during this period.

Many mothers are at risk of postnatal depression (as many as 10%) and some decide to switch from breastfeeding to formula feeding to protect their mental health – despite the overwhelming health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby.

Parent Sanctuary have put together the Post-Partum Project; a six-week series of workshops which cover some of the key issues that parents face during those first few months.

With funding from Locala and The National Lottery, they aim to support new parents through their fourth trimester period. These sessions will cover infant feeding, sleep, crying (including colic) as well as self-care and changes to relationships that happen naturally with the arrival of a new baby.

The sessions are designed to be interactive and promote discussion, so parents can share their own experiences and support others as they describe their own struggles.

The idea is to create a safe space for parents to ask questions and talk about the challenges they’re facing. There will be a WhatsApp support group set up for each cohort of parents so that they can continue that support 24/7 and use the group to forge new friendships.

The first sessions for the Post-Partum Project start on Monday January 17 (12.30pm-2pm) and will be held at St Nicholas’ Church in Upper Cumberworth. They’re ideal for parents of babies under three months old who are looking for advice, support, and social interaction. The cost is on a ‘pay as you can’ basis.

For more information on other Parent Sanctuary services and events, or to sign up to the Post-Partum Project sessions, get in touch with Parent Sanctuary using the following contact details: