QNIS, in partnership with Cattanach and the National Lottery Community Fund, are pleased to announce the launch of the Healthier Pregnancies, Better Lives Programme.
Future parents want a safe pregnancy, a thriving baby and a rewarding parenthood. It doesn’t always happen. But these goals can be met more often for more people across Scotland. This programme will help prevent harm, prepare well for pregnancy and improve life chances.
This new initiative of the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS), in partnership with Cattanach and The National Lottery Community Fund, will identify and build upon the earliest opportunities to improve the life chances of women, their partners and their children. The best predictor of birth outcomes continues to be the health and wellbeing of women when they become pregnant.
In Scotland, roughly half of all pregnancies are unintended. Unintended pregnancies can result in a wide range of preventable problems not being prevented – and important ways of preparing for this crucial time are left untapped.
Through this new programme of work, QNIS will encourage and support community nurses and midwives to identify opportunities to make a positive difference before a woman’s first or next pregnancy. This will involve reducing risks such as smoking and drinking and promoting increased preparations like taking folic acid.
The programme will also raise awareness of serious neurodevelopmental conditions, especially Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and how to take earlier action to help people already living with them. Being exposed to alcohol in the womb creates a real risk of FASD, which is a life-long, life-limiting condition adversely affecting behaviour, learning and wellbeing.
QNIS already contributed to the Scottish Government’s new eLearning resource on FASD https://www.qnis.org.uk/invisible-not-inconsequential-fasd/ and will continue to show that while FASD is often invisible, it is neither inevitable nor inconsequential.
The Healthier Pregnancies, Better Lives programme will not only engage with community nurses and midwives, but also partner with other professions, organisations and individuals. Together, a great deal can be accomplished to make prevention, preparation and responsiveness part of the fabric of Scottish society.
Sophie Flemig, Cattanach Trust’s Chief Executive, said:
“Cattanach is delighted to support the truly preventative work that the QNIS is delivering around preconception health and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
We want to support positive early years outcomes for children and the entire family through our funding. This QNIS work will be instrumental in starting a positive discussion about topics that are far too often avoided or approached with finger-wagging.
We are excited to see the emerging outcomes for children and families and look forward to working with the QNIS and partners.”
Kate Still, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland, said:
“I am delighted that QNIS has been successful in securing an award from The National Lottery.
Working alongside key partners they will seek to bring about lasting change in knowledge, policy, practice and behaviour. I would like to wish QNIS every success as they begin the development phase of this vital piece of work.
Dr Jonathan Sher, QNIS Senior Fellow and Programme Lead of Healthier Pregnancies, Better Lives said:
“COVID-19 has taught us all powerful lessons about the critical value of prevention, preparation and taking early action. As Scotland moves toward the post-pandemic era, QNIS and its partners will apply that learning across the board including to increase the chances of safer pregnancies, thriving babies and rewarding parenthoods.
We are grateful for the support of Cattanach and the Community Fund. We look forward with hope to co-designing and co-producing a uniquely Scottish programme with our partners that will improve lives and life chances, reduce inequalities and promote human rights.”