Jenny experienced complications after her son’s birth, and he needed specialist care. It was an intensely challenging time for her and her partner, as they got used to becoming parents and coping with breastfeeding. When Jenny joined Breathe Melodies for Mums sessions she found the programme such a positive experience that she is recommending it to other new mums.
Breathe Melodies for Mums holds a special place in my heart. It lifted me out of the place I was in, which was quite a low state.”
Jenny explained: “I’d brought a new human into the world. It was a huge adjustment that affected my emotional and mental health. I constantly had the nagging feeling that something was wrong. I was wondering, ‘what’s going on?’ ‘Why am I feeling like this?’ But I struggled to ask for help.”
“Breathe Melodies for Mums holds a special place in my heart. It lifted me out of the place I was in, which was quite a low state. That’s how special this programme is to me.”
The Breathe Melodies for Mums singing programme launched in Wandsworth on 5 October 2023, helping new mums experiencing symptoms of postnatal depression, such as low mood, stress and anxiety.
Funded by Wandsworth Council’s Arts for Health and Wellbeing Fund, the project is a partnership with social prescribing provider Enable and NHS South West London. The free sessions are delivered by pioneering social enterprise Breathe Arts Health Research, which has supported more than 1,000 new mothers and babies over the past six years.
Mums can book themselves onto the 10-week programme, taking place this autumn and next spring at Eastwood (Roehampton) and York Gardens (Battersea) children and family centres.
We teach a varied repertoire of songs in different languages from all around the world, challenging mothers creatively with rounds and harmonies.”
According to Lorna Greenwood, from Breathe who manages the programme: “The sessions are created with mothers at the heart and aim to energise, uplift, and improve self-confidence. We teach a varied repertoire of songs in different languages from all around the world, challenging mothers creatively with rounds and harmonies.”
Based on research from the Royal College of Music and Imperial College London, the programme found a 35% reduction of symptoms of postnatal depression among participants by its sixth week. An impressive 65% of participants no longer displayed moderate to severe symptoms. Additionally, the singing was found to have a positive impact on stress hormone levels, as well as fostering stronger bonds between mother and baby.
“The babies undoubtedly benefit a lot from the sessions, but the focus is firmly on the mums,” said Lorna. “Participants are there just to sing and find themselves through music. Babies can cry, feed and nap during the sessions and, if new mothers need an extra pair of hands, the Breathe Team are there to help.”
Extra support in the early stages of parenthood is so important. Postnatal depression can affect more than one in every 10 women within a year of giving birth.”
Wandsworth GP Dr Nicola Williams welcomed the new service: “Extra support in the early stages of parenthood is so important. Postnatal depression can affect more than one in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. It’s important to get help as soon as possible if you think you have any symptoms, which could last for months or get worse and have a significant impact on you, your baby and your family. With the right support most people make a full recovery.”
Cllr Graeme Henderson, Wandsworth Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, added: “We know that taking control of our own health and living a full and active life is crucial to protecting and enhancing our wellbeing and mental health. Arts and culture are an important part of this, and I’m delighted that we are supporting our community partners to put on these activities for local people to enjoy.”
Mums can find out more and sign up direct via the Breathe Arts Health Research website or by referral from health and social care contacts.