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Perinatal peer support groups offering a safe, nurturing and supportive space for new mums

by | 8th July 2024 | News

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the group. I can honestly say that.”

Sophie with son Ronnie and daughter Raiya

Sophie with son Ronnie and daughter Raiya


Mum of two, Sophie reflecting on the perinatal support group which she attended after experiencing postnatal depression.

She added; “Even though I had family and friends around me, I just felt really, really lonely. I had wanted a baby for so long, but the reality was not how I imagined it. It was just so overwhelming.

“To know that people are going through the same things as you and know that I wasn’t the only one feeling the way I was feeling, during such a lonely and scary time, was just incredible.”

Postnatal depression is a type of depression that many parents experience after having a baby. It is a common problem, affecting more than one in every ten women within a year of giving birth. Other mental health symptoms that can occur during or after pregnancy include anxiety, panic attacks and psychosis. With the right support most people make a full recovery.

Livewell Southwest runs four perinatal peer support groups around Plymouth for mums with babies from birth to 18 months. They are for women who might be struggling with their mental health postnatally from a low to moderate level. That includes just feeling the overwhelm with motherhood and juggling all the things that come with it. Women are also welcome antenatally if it is their second pregnancy onwards.

Chaya joined one of the groups when her daughter was two months old. She was struggling to bond and her anxiety meant she didn’t want to leave her home.

Chaya with her baby daughter

Chaya with her daughter


She said; “It was a real lifeline for me in the beginning. Even if you have got support around you at home, you can still feel very isolated and sometimes you can feel like you are the only person in the world with these struggles.

“I remember during the night feeds feeling really alone and guilty that I was feeling that way. Knowing that I had this supportive group to come to each week helped me find the light in those really dark days.”

Chaya is now a volunteer peer supporter, helping other mums at the groups.

Chaya stood in garden

Chaya is now a volunteer peer support worker at Four Greens Wellbeing Hub in Whitleigh


That is the ethos of the groups which were set up after lockdown in 2020. Women with lived experience helping other women.

Just like Shachar Wilson who is the Perinatal Peer Support Facilitator. She has her own lived experience of perinatal anxiety, postnatal depression and birth trauma.

Shachar smiling in garden

Shachar Wilson, Perinatal Peer Support Facilitator


Shachar leads the sessions which she used to attend herself.  She said; “Once you’re settled in, we normally start off by asking people how their week has been, what they have had going on, how they are, and that really just allows us to open up the conversation. Some weeks it can be a really in-depth kind of conversation around people’s mental health, what they have had going on, what is impacting them in the here and now and other weeks it is a generic moan about life and other life stuff people have got going on. We know from our own experiences, that that really can impact how you feel as a mum and a woman in the postnatal period. It is all about giving people that space to bring whatever they feel they need to, and we work through that with them.”

Sophie has since got married, had a second baby and moved house, and says the support she has had from the women she met at the group has been invaluable. “They have been there through everything. My ups and my downs. They just understand what I am going through. I have got friends for life.”


The groups are small with between eight and twelve mums at each session. There are mats and toys for the babies and toddlers surrounded by chairs where mums can talk over lots of tea and biscuits.

Monday 1000-1130 – Nomony Children’s Centre, Cattedown

Wednesday 1000-1200 – Four Greens Wellbeing Hub, Whitleigh

Friday 1000-1130 – The Barn Children’s Centre, St Budeaux

Friday 1300-1430 – The Rees Centre, Plympton

You can book a free place by emailing the team [email protected]