The Impact of Mums’ Zone for new mums and their babies in Wokingham
Posted: Thu, 5 Oct 2023 16:10
We were pleased to give funding to Wokingham Borough Council's Community Engagement Team to re-launch our Mums' Zone programme, which aims to support the physical, mental and social health of inactive mums at risk of poor mental health in Wokingham.
Mums' Zone is a holistic health and wellbeing intervention that was originally set up in 2018 in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University, who provided the research and evaluation for the project. The programme ran successfully from two locations in Wokingham until March 2020, when the lockdown forced them to stop their activities.
The funding enabled them to resume the programme from the Rainbow Community Centre in Winnersh, Wokingham in January 2023. They offered 22 weekly sessions of two hours each, combining yoga and social support for mums and their babies. Nine mums registered for the programme, and on average four to six mums attended each week.
The yoga instructor, Chris Duret, was experienced and friendly, and set up a WhatsApp group to keep the participants connected. The yoga routine was interactive and inclusive of the babies, incorporating nursery rhymes and songs that they enjoyed. The mums were able to gain confidence and enjoy some gentle exercise and "me time", knowing that their babies were supported by the volunteer and Mums' Zone Ambassador, Margaret Cain.
Chris said: "Mum zone is a wonderful mental and physical health initiative. The mums who join at the start had babies ranging from 6-8 weeks and for most it was their first outing. Using mindfulness, visualisation & breathing exercise to calm the mind, reflection and gratitude exercises to offer perspective and gentle and active yoga poses these mums got to heal their postnatal body and become stronger as well as connect with other mums who were going through similar stuff. Adding other topics to the yoga session such as baby massage and weaning gave them added tools to enjoy their enjoy their baby. It has really been so enriching to watch these new mums blossom."
After the yoga session, the mums had an opportunity to socialise over a drink and healthy snacks, and to attend workshops on topics of interest to them. They organised five workshops on baby massage, weaning, HealthWatch, paediatric first aid, and safeguarding. Margaret facilitated the conversations and helped the mums to form a support network for each other. They were able to share their worries and ask questions without feeling judged or isolated.
The feedback from the participants was very positive. They reported feeling more relaxed, energised, and positive about themselves and their babies. They appreciated the structure and routine of the sessions, as well as the flexibility and understanding of the staff and volunteers. They also became friends and continued to meet up outside of the sessions.
One participant said: "This is the only group that I feel was for me, rather than my son. It (the yoga) has massively helped with my post-partum recovery and allowed me to stay active… it has also helped my mental health both through the yoga sessions and meeting other mums".
Individual Case Study
Rebecca Stephens is a first-time mum who joined Mums' Zone with her 9-week-old son Lucas in January 2023. She shared her experience of taking part in Mums' Zone and how it helped her to overcome her challenges and improve her physical, mental and social health.
Rebecca said that she liked the structure of the sessions, unlike other mother and toddler groups, and the fact that the sessions started with yoga first, which was the only exercise that she was able to do in the first three months after giving birth. She commented that the yoga instructor, Chris Duret, was supportive and encouraging, and that the yoga routine was interactive and inclusive of the babies. The yoga helped her to relax, energise, and feel positive about herself and her baby.
Rebecca also said that she enjoyed the social time after the yoga, where she could chat with other mums over a drink and healthy snacks. Although she felt anxious when she first joined the group, as she felt she had low confidence and struggled to leave the house, she said that the group was a safe space where she could share her worries and ask questions without feeling judged or isolated. She made friends with some of the mums who consistently attended, and that they still meet up outside of the sessions.
We are grateful to Wokingham Borough Council's Community Engagement Team for delivering this programme and impacting the lives of new Mums in Berkshire!