The Community Development and Health Network (CDHN) is Northern Ireland’s leading organisation working to empower communities and tackle health inequalities using community development.

McCartan’s Pharmacy and National Childbirth Trust (NCT) - no one uses a pharmacy more than a mother in those first 1,000 days!

According to the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the first 1,000 days of a child’s life are the most important.  NCT is the UK’s largest charity of parents, they provide information and support during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood.  The organisation offers a range of services including a telephone helpline, breastfeeding peer support, antenatal education, Bumps and Babies as well as mums’ groups. 

Local Newry Pharmacist, Stephanie Haughey from McCartan’s Pharmacy, is a member of Newry’s NCT.  Stephanie realised life as a new mum is a time of great change and recognised the need for a pharmacy project with pregnant mums, new mums and breastfeeding mums.  As a pharmacist and a mum, Stephanie knew no one uses a pharmacy as much as a mother in those early years of parenting.  Stephanie approached Seana Talbot from Newry NCT and, together with a group of mothers, designed a project and came up with a range of health issues to explore.  Some of these issues included maternal mental health, diet and exercise, childhood ailments and social needs.  
The successful project ran for six sessions and removed the stigma of the pharmacist being unapproachable in the dispensary.  The women realised how much support they could avail of and strong relationships were forged with Stephanie, the pharmacist, and with each other.  

Stephanie said “Our project helped this group of women bond with each other and establish a link with their community pharmacy. It introduced them to many new schemes that they had not known about including minor ailments, smoking cessation and reviews of medicine use -  all of which are free services.  I really enjoyed hearing their stories and experiences.”
 
Seána Talbot, NCT, said “The early days of maternity leave can be a lonely time and many mums encounter postnatal depression, issues with feeding, sleep deprivation and social isolation.  The purpose of this project was to get mums out of their homes and help them to socially interact with their peers and their pharmacist.  To feel that you aren’t alone in what you are experiencing is a great boost to confidence in today’s generation where mothers often feel that they are doing everything wrong. It also gives mothers a chance to let others learn from their experience.” 
 
When asked what they liked most about the project, one mum said “I liked the opportunity to meet other local mums and we now meet up once a week.  I learnt so much about other groups in my community that I can use for support and information following the birth of my little girl.” Impact Stephanie said “The project helped educate the women and took a holistic approach looking at emotional, mental and physical health throughout this time of great change in their lives - ‘the 1st 1,000 days’.  Group discussion created a dynamic that was inclusive of all the mothers’ needs.  This will have changed the lives of the mothers and, in turn, their babies and wider family members.  Opening up their local pharmacy as a resource in the community has offered mothers a medical professional who is available without an appointment.  This offers reassurance to mothers so that they do not feel they have to wait on an appointment with their GP .”