Harris Launches Pregnancy & Childcare Website

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Harris Launches Pregnancy & Childcare Website

Latest press release from Simon Harris TD, issued on Friday, December 7th 2018…

Minister Simon Harris TD yesterday launched mychild.ie, a new HSE pregnancy and child health website designed to be a one-stop-shop where parents can access accurate information and answers to a range of questions about issues they face from pregnancy through to the first three years of their child’s life.

The website mychild.ie was launched alongside three new books for parents, including My Pregnancy, a 224 page guide that will be given to pregnant women at their first hospital appointment from early 2019. Parents will receive the new My Child: 0 to 2 Years and My Child: 2 to 5 Years books from their public health nurse. These books replace the existing Caring for Your Child series and have been significantly expanded to include new topics requested by parents.

HSE hopes that these new resources, created by healthcare professionals in consultation with parents, will complement the care and information offered to parents through all their interactions with the HSE from pregnancy right through their child’s early years.

The mychild.ie site contains valuable information on pregnancy, labour, birth, babies and toddlers, along with important advice on parenting. It has been designed to be easy to use, particularly for smartphone/tablet format, and therefore font type and sizes and instructional images or videos where required are formatted for mobile use. Further content will be added over the coming months as the site evolves.

Speaking at the launch of mychild.ie, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD said, “Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting and challenging times in life. Supporting parents helps to give children the best start in life, and investment in early years pays a lifetime’s dividend, in health and in all areas of their development.

“It is important also for parents to take time to look after themselves. The site contains some important information and practical advice on this and I’d really encourage all expectant and new parents to take a good look at it.”

The resources were created following extensive engagement with new parents, pregnant women and healthcare professionals. Over 4,000 parents took part in an online public survey, 20% of whom were expecting a baby. Face-to-face research was also carried out. These parents included those at different stages (first time pregnant, second child, mothers, fathers) and from a variety of locations across Ireland and different situations, including parents transitioning from homelessness, asylum seekers, teenage and young parents, and the Traveller community. The findings informed the scope, content and design of mychild.ie and the books.

The new resources were made possible by grant funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies through the Nurture Programme. Nurture is a partnership between the HSE, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Katharine Howard Foundation (KHF) and the Centre for Effective Services. This is a three-year programme to improve the information and professional supports provided to parents during pregnancy and the first three years of their baby’s life.

National and international research shows that what happens to a child during pregnancy and the first three years of life will influence the child’s health and wellbeing for their lifetime.

HSE Director General John Connaughton added, “Over 62,000 babies were born in Ireland last year. All parents want what’s best for their child, and new parents in particular need support from everyone around them to achieve that. The relationship between healthcare professionals and parents is key. We hope these new resources will complement the care and information offered to parents through all their interactions with the health service from pregnancy right through their child’s early years.

“We are grateful to the support of the Atlantic Philanthropies and our partners which has helped to provide greater access to parents and healthcare professionals to consistent, evidence-based information and resources and enhanced the services currently provided. This will contribute to improved outcomes for children.”

Jane Forman of Atlantic Philanthropies said, “Atlantic Philanthropies applauds the HSE’s development of the mychild.ie website and the related new resources for parents being launched today. Atlantic’s investment in the Nurture Programme: Infant Health and Wellbeing builds on our investments over two decades in the development of quality services for children and families in Ireland.

“Early childhood is the most crucial time to provide supports to parents and their children. It is wonderful to know that part of Atlantic’s legacy is that every baby born in Ireland and their families will now have access to the best information and advice.”

Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, HSE National Director, Strategic Planning and Transformation, said, “Developed for parents by parents, mychild.ie and the accompanying books provide a one-stop source of information. Whether you are preparing to become a first-time parent or you’ve done this before, parents need accurate, impartial and medically accurate advice to help them do what is best for their children.

“Parents are at the heart of our work, and helped us to identify the information, advice and support that people need around pregnancy and early years, and how and where they want to get that support. We are very grateful to everyone who helped to create these books and mychild.ie.”

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