When I first wrote the maternal obesity programme BeeZee Bumps in 2010, it was largely centred around building social connections during pregnancy that continue after giving birth. We provided important information and used some behavioural techniques to prepare for the challenges at the time and to come.
Building a resilient base… is a great place from which we can then build strong, healthy habits for a healthy, confident mum
Fast forward 10 years and the premise is still very similar. However, the BeeZee Bumps programme is split in two, our antenatal programme is BeeZee Bumps (supporting pregnant women to enhance physical and mental health and wellbeing); and BeeZee Mums (the same goal but post-pregnancy). However, in consultation with the mums and based on our evaluations, we have shifted towards the primary focus of both services to be about resilience. Mums told us time and time again:
Mums spoke about the difficulty of a new baby, particularly when you had other children at different ages. Their needs are so different and parenting them is so different that the processes just don’t complement each other. You are doing completely different routines for each child! This led to parents feeling overwhelmed and feeling like they were the bottom of the pile.
‘Opening Post’ and ‘Writing Thank You Cards’ – are these interventions for health?
BeeZee Mums has always been dynamic and reactive to the needs of the people on the service. However, this has become the entire premise of the programme as it has evolved. The main goal of BeeZee Mums now is: Being reactive to the needs of the mums in service of building resilience.
Without resilience, none of the behaviour change work we can do with them matters. We support mums to prioritise building supportive social networks and asking for help when they need it. We support them to deal with day to day tasks that get on top of them, using choice architecture to design their environments to default them to achieve small things that help them feel in control. We encourage them to share all their funny and not-so-funny stories of ‘failure’. We are all failing at stuff all the time. Not sharing it creates the façade that so many mums feel the pressure to portray – doing it all and not breaking a sweat! That isn’t real life. Let’s get real.
We start with the small things that are affecting people and build resilience from there. Behaviour change follows resilience.
So how can ‘opening post’, or ‘sending thank you cards’ be part of a public health intervention? Simple! These were their words. If these are causes of stress that make someone feel inadequate or like a bad mum/wife/girlfriend/person, then this will always undermine and other efforts to change. We start with the small things that are affecting people and build resilience from there. Behaviour change follows resilience.
Building a resilient base with good, supportive, social connections around you who share in your pain, struggles and joy is a great place from which we can then build strong, healthy habits for a healthy, confident mum, who is ready and able to build a healthy, confident family.
If you would like to speak to us about our ‘real life’ approach to applying academically rigorous, evidence-based public health interventions for children, young people, adults and families that work in the context of peoples’ real lives, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org