Evaluation of Baby Steps
Using a variety of data, our evaluation looked at the overall experience of Baby Steps users and measured the service’s effect on parental mental health and relationships.
What we learnt
Quantitative evaluation found that parents who had attended Baby Steps:
- showed an improvement in the quality of their relationship with their babies
- showed a decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression
- showed increased levels of self-esteem
- had a lower caesarean rate (see the World Health Organisation’s report (PDF) on the importance of this measure)
- had babies with a higher birth weight.
(Coster, Brookes and Sanger, 2015)
> Read our quantitative evaluation report
Qualitative evaluations of parents’ experiences of Baby Steps found:
- parents were very satisfied with the programme and enjoyed it
- parents felt they had acquired new knowledge, which had prepared them for pregnancy and parenthood
- parents felt the programme had a positive effect on their relationship with their partner
- parents felt that the programme had made them feel secure and supported
- groups of parents who had less access to other forms of information and support, including parents in prison and those from minority ethnic groups, particularly benefited from Baby Steps.
(Brookes and Coster, 2014; Brookes and Coster, 2014; Brookes and Coster, 2015)
> See a full list of evaluation reports for this service
How we evaluated this service
Baby Steps was evaluated during the first three years of delivery.
During the first year, a process evaluation was carried out, with three components: focus groups, survey and interviews. The process evaluation demonstrated that the programme had the potential to be beneficial to parents, and that they appreciated it.
Held with practitioners to explore their experiences of delivering the programme.
148 parents were surveyed immediately after they had completed the service. This explored their satisfaction with the programme immediately after they had completed it, and whether they thought it was helpful.
51 parents were asked about their experience of the programme and how they thought it had helped them. We selected parents for the interviews with a mix of characteristics such as gender, geographical area and referral criteria. Some interviews explored how the programme worked for particular groups, such as parents in prison and those from minority ethnic families.
A second stage of the evaluation was conducted, measuring the programme’s envisaged outcomes using self-report psychometric measures. The measures were obtained at four time points:
- T1: before the programme started
- T2: at the end of the last antenatal session
- T3: at the post-birth home visit
- T4: at the last postnatal session.
In addition to the psychometric measures, data on birth weight, length of gestation, and delivery mode were collected from parents at the first home visit following birth as indicators of healthy birth outcomes.
Parents were also contacted six months after they had finished the course and asked to complete the psychometric measures and answer some additional questions about the longer-term impact of the course.
The evaluation used the following tools:
- Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale
- Mother Object Relationship Scale
- Prenatal Attachment Inventory and adapted Prenatal Attachment Inventory for fathers
- Relationship Quality Index
- Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.