Dorset’s Local Maternity System (LMS) is proud to launch the Maternity Matters Dorset website – a brand new online guide to pregnancy, birth and beyond to support those who are expecting.

The Maternity Matters Dorset project was born out of Better Births, a national review carried out in 2016 that set out a vision to improve outcomes of maternity services in England. Dorset was selected as one of seven early adopter sites for localised initiatives to be piloted to pave the way for safer, more personalised care for all women and every baby.

Dorset’s LMS has worked closely with those delivering and receiving maternity care, seeking the views of over 600 families and staff in Dorset. As part of the process, two local mums were recruited as Maternity Voice representatives to engage widely with service users – giving a platform for families’ voices to be heard and their experiences to be fed back to shape improvements.

In true collaboration, a series of design workshops were held out in the community with local families, midwives, health visitors, Maternity Voice representatives and partners to define these opportunities, which resulted in the co-design of Maternity Matters Dorset.

The website provides an innovative and interactive approach to antenatal and postnatal education that can be accessed anywhere, whether you are having your first child, are experienced parents or having a multiple pregnancy.

Lianne Oldham, Better Births Early Adopter Project Manager for NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Being selected as an Early Adopter has gifted Dorset with a unique opportunity to lead the way in finding creative solutions to support happy and healthy pregnancies. While services have always been available, our research revealed confusion about what existed locally and how to effectively access it.

“Maternity Matters Dorset tackles this source of unnecessary stress. Now, families can tap into even more support, advice and information all in one place. We hope women will feel empowered and better equipped to make the right choices for themselves, their baby and their family.”

Maternity Matters Dorset provides a comprehensive source of information, covering the different birthing options available and what to expect at different stages of the pregnancy. It provides a single point of access for self-referrals into the maternity system, which means individualised care planning can begin from the initial contact.

Sandra Chitty, Head of Midwifery at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “Pregnancy is life-changing. Having spent the last 8 years leading the service at Poole and 21 years as a clinical midwife giving direct care to women, I understand how exciting and overwhelming it can be for the whole family.

“There is now a fantastic online tool for us to signpost people to during pregnancy and for ongoing postnatal care, which will reduce the risk of information overload, provide a real comfort to parents and support safety. Our team is delighted with the outcome and we hope that families will find it a helpful and reassuring guide.”

The website offers a number of innovative features. Using the map functionality, simply type in your post code to discover contact details for the midwife, home birth and health visitor teams local to you, as well as wider support services. The calendar shows maternity events taking place throughout Dorset at a glance.

For dads who expressed that they were overlooked by maternity services, NHS Dorset CCG has worked with DadPad to provide free access for local Dads to the tailored app. Virtual tours of the Dorset County Hospital Maternity Unit, Poole Maternity Hospital and the Birth Centre at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital are also now available via the website.

Rachel Filmer, Maternity Voices Representative, commented: “I speak to lots of parents who are unsure of what’s available to them. As a mum of twins, I know how much conflicting information there is online about pregnancy and birth. Now, we have one place to go to for evidence-based information and advice straight from our wonderful midwives. I am so excited that parents in Dorset will have access to such a useful website, made just for them.”

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