Why our work matters
Parent Infant Partnership (PIP) UK's task is to provide services in local communities to babies who are struggling to develop a secure attachment relationship with their primary caregiver (generally the mother), and to provide a range of therapeutic interventions that can promote positive interactions within the infant-parent relationship.
Perinatal mental ill-health, substance misuse, past maltreatment, domestic violence, poverty and birth trauma are just a few of the significant risk factors that can have a negative impact on the caregiving relationship and so increase the risk of very insecure attachment. Such risks may fill the mind of a caregiver, regardless of social position, and get in the way of forming a healthy, sensitive and joyful relationship with their baby.
At PIP UK we aspire to promote the provision of specialised services that will enable every vulnerable baby and family to have access to specialist clinical support in the first 1001 days of life. Knowing which risks can have a negative affect on the caregiver's capacity to hold the baby in mind means that PIP teams can offer help through a strength based approach even before the baby is born; certainly before the baby is harmed.
From the moment of conception through to birth and the first year of life every aspect of a baby’s emotional environment influences its future development. Babies have no 'choice' about totally fitting in to the family environment they find themselves in, and they will adapt on a psychological and neurological level to both positive and negative experiences; but the final outcomes will be quite different.
Babies need to be wanted, nurtured, loved, protected and valued by emotionally available and sensitively responsive parents; and where this occurs in the early years, in the greater proportion of families, the child's development will continue in a positive way. Such an environment allows the child to mature to their full potential, growing up with a sense of emotional wellbeing, a capacity to form and maintain positive relationships and with the advantages of good language and cognitive skills - all built upon the pre-verbal foundations of healthy neurological growth.
A child who has grown up from a secure base in all these areas of development will be more likely to be ready for school, enjoy learning and be able to form and keep positive relationships with friends and mentors. One day he or she will be more likely to pass on positive parenting to the next generation. However, in a significant minority of families, for many different reasons, the early emotional environment contains a high level of stress for the baby and this, if it persists for too long, will programme the child's capacity for emotional control and stress reactivity in a way that will create a serious disadvantage in future life.
Reactions that were once essential for survival may create an internal world that one day will be full of the psychological fractures and fault lines that lie behind a range of adult problems - from criminality to mental illness. A multidisciplinary PIP team provides the specialist early intervention needed to help prevent such negative outcomes; negative for the individual, all those who come into contact with him or her and to the wider society in turn.
It is a public health concern that so many babies and their families’ emotional needs are not being met across the UK because of a lack of specialist clinical services available for the conception to age 2 period. This has a detrimental impact upon local communities in which statistics show that around 20% of the maternal population are suffering emotional and psychological distress, beginning in the antenatal period.