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Understanding early pregnancy support

Research report from Together for Childhood in Govan, Glasgow

Publication date June 2024

Together for Childhood (TfC) is the NSPCC’s place-based partnership project working in four towns and cities in the United Kingdom. In Scotland, TfC is based in the community of Govan in Glasgow and is focused on the long-term goal of preventing child abuse and neglect in families facing adversity.

Early pregnancy support for parents can enable safe, nurturing environments for children. In October 2021, a multi-agency workshop with local professionals identified an unmet need for early support during pregnancy for Govan families.

It found that expectant parents experienced difficulties accessing a range of support services and faced issues of isolation, mental health, and unresolved trauma. This report explores these issues further, focusing on pregnancy support services and barriers to access.

Between April and November 2023, 13 new and expectant parents and carers from the Govan community were interviewed by TfC researchers. Parents and carers were asked about:

  • their knowledge of pregnancy services and support available
  • the barriers or facilitators to accessing pregnancy support services
  •  the types of support that would have been helpful for them to access during early pregnancy.

This report summarises key issues shared by participants including the gaps in early pregnancy services and support, and the structural inequalities families are navigating. It outlines parents’ recommendations for change, and how they link to current policies and practice frameworks in Scotland.

Authors: Prajapa Seneviratne and Thea Shahrokh

Understanding early pregnancy support: Together for Childhood Glasgow (Govan) research report
Download the report (PDF)

Key findings

Almost all participants felt they had no support during the earliest stages of pregnancy

Feeling that there was no support brought a heightened sense of anxiety and isolation, particularly for those new to the country without family help. Participants felt that medical appointments were few and far between during early pregnancy and that this was another challenge faced by expectant parents and carers in accessing information and further support.

Timely, consistent and compassionate medical care is essential

All participants stressed the importance of having supportive and accessible medical care during the early days of pregnancy for parents to stay healthy, feel reassured, and manage changes during pregnancy.

Reliable medical information needs to be accessible

Participants highlighted the importance of receiving reliable information around what to expect and what was normal during pregnancy to fill the gaps between healthcare appointments. However, participants reported finding it difficult to access reliable information in a format that suited their needs. 

Community-based family and peer support from the very early stages of pregnancy is key

All families would benefit from wrap-around support during the early days of pregnancy. This could include local spaces for connecting with peers and opportunities to speak to other parents with shared experiences.

Social and economic inclusion and exclusion need to be considered

All participants spoke of financial hardship and anxieties around financial stability and the affordability of a growing family. For some, what was being experienced during pregnancy also connected to inequalities they faced due to experiences of cultural and ethnic diversity, economic hardship and uncertain immigration status.


Please cite as: Seneviratne, P. and Shahrokh, T. (2024) Understanding early pregnancy support: a Together for Childhood Glasgow (Govan) research report. London: NSPCC. 

"I didn’t know that there was all this support or medical care provided for pregnant women until I was admitted in hospital as an emergency case [at seven months gestation] and then I saw all this care and doctors […] I got all that care [because I was pregnant]"