DORSET'S brand new online guide to pregnancy, birth and beyond to support those who are expecting a baby has now gone live.

Maternity Matters Dorset provides provides a comprehensive source of information, covering the different birthing options available and what to expect at different stages of the pregnancy. It provides a single point of access for self-referrals into the maternity system, which means individualised care planning can begin from initial contact.

The project was born out of Better Births, a national review carried out in 2016 that set out a vision to improve outcomes of maternity services in England.

Dorset was selected as one of seven early adopter sites for localised initiatives to pave the way for safer, more personalised care for all women and every baby.

Organisers say they have worked closely with those delivering and receiving maternity care, seeking the views of over 600 families and staff in the county.

As part of the process, two local mums were recruited as Maternity Voice representatives to engage widely with service users – giving a platform for families’ voices to be heard and their experiences to be fed back to shape improvements.

Opportunities were identified to transform Dorset’s maternity care, which included a new postnatal care model, digitalised personalised care plans and an initiative to create one trusted source of local information for mums, partners and families.

Better Births Early Adopter Project Manager, Lianne Oldham, said: “Being selected as an Early Adopter has gifted Dorset with a unique opportunity to lead the way in finding creative solutions to support happy and healthy pregnancies. While services have always been available, our research revealed confusion about what existed locally and how to effectively access it."

Head of Midwifery at Poole Hospital, Sandra Chitty, said:

“There is now a fantastic online tool for us to signpost people to during pregnancy and for ongoing postnatal care, which will reduce the risk of information overload, provide a real comfort to parents and support safety.”

For dads who expressed that they were overlooked by maternity services DadPad is providing free access for local dads to a tailored app. Virtual tours of the Dorset County Hospital Maternity Unit, Poole Maternity Hospital and the Birth Centre at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital are also now available via the website.