womb to world conference

Baby Communication Week Day 5

14 – 21st June

My name is Liz Thompson and I am a Birthlight baby massage, and mother & baby yoga instructor. A while back, I was asked to share my experience with you regarding our 2017-2018 yearlong audit at the Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust.

The audit was set up to measure the effectiveness of baby massage and yoga classes in reducing patient and parent/carer stress.

Results from the audit were very positive, showing significant reductions in caregivers ’stress, feeling better able to cope and having enhanced confidence in caring for their children. When asked, parents/carers reported that they were ‘highly likely’ to recommend the service to others. After the audit finished, we continued running sessions using funding from Barts Charity. We happily ran weekly sessions from 2018 to March 2020, until CoOVID19 changed how all of us conduct our lives.

Lucy Wootton, Clinical Lead of the Royal London Hospital Play Department and visionary of the audit wanted to continue our classes. But how? No external workers were allowed into the hospital, strict infection prevention and control measures were put in place, the paediatric department was being adapted for adult Covid patients, new rules of good practice and safety had to be drawn up and implemented and no one knew how the pandemic would unfold. The only certainty in the uncertainty was that everyone needed support: patients, their families and staff alike.

online baby yoga classes

As with the audit, much problem solving, emails, discussions, meetings and trial sessions followed. Then, in July 2020, our first official virtual, online class began.
The service is run through ‘Star Leaf’; a virtual platform which protects patient confidentiality. and is supported by Barts Trust for virtual visits.

I am at home, online with my computer, doll and equipment in my room. A Play Team Specialist staff member connects with me at a set time, and I am then carried virtually around the wards and rooms via an iPad. This image always makes me smile. I used to think how strange it was for parents to see me in person with my doll, but it must be stranger still to see me via an iPad!

The virtual visits run like our “in person” classes. The principle is the same, individualised, patient led and lasting between 10-20 minutes to enable time to access as many patients as possible. As before, some virtual visits focus on positive touch with resting hands, songs or gentle massage. Other virtual visits incorporate yoga moves, breath and body awareness or relaxation exercises. Again, no two virtual visits are the same. All sessions are still patient led with parent participation being key. Permission is always asked from the patient beforehand and the patient is always thanked afterwards. If a patient is asleep, we offer the session to the parent. As per the audit, without exception, our virtual sessions have enabled the patient and parent to unite in a more relaxed and connected space.

Amazingly and thankfully, the virtual visits seem to work.

Here is what some parents have said: “It was a lovely session, we really appreciated it. Thank you… “ 

“This was a really enjoyable session for both parents and baby. Something new to learn, really beneficial and relaxing. The instructor is lovely!

Liz Thompson

Liz Thompson

Birthlight Instructor

My name is Liz Thompson and I am a Birthlight baby massage, and mother & baby yoga instructor. http://www.lizthompsonmassagetherapy.com