FLY Mama was launched by Huddersfield Mum and Specialist Trauma Informed Yoga and Breathwork Instructor and Matrescence Coach, Kelly Thistlethwaite alongside Michelle Norton-Hughes, a Specialist Women’s Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. It is an online platform providing a multidisciplinary trauma informed approach to supporting the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of birthing people through pregnancy, postpartum and perinatal trauma and loss experiences, has been awarded a Fast Start Award grant from Innovate UK. 

The grant will assist them in developing their pioneering health solution for corporate wellbeing, elevating the way that birthing people are supported, changing the way that HR attract and retain talent, and assisting to improve gender equality in the workplace.

Historically the healthcare system is reactive rather than proactive, and individuals can be left feeling overwhelmed or unaware of the support available to them. With limited time, energy, and funding it is not always possible for birthing people to search for resources and care they may not have even known exists. FLY Mama’s innovative program aims to bridge this gap. This project aims to put their self-driven health care approach at the fingertips of as individuals across the UK as possible. 

Fewer than 1 in 5 of all new mothers, and 29% of first-time mothers, return to full time work in the first 3 years after maternity leave. This falls to 15% after 5 years. 17% of women leave employment completely in the five years following childbirth, compared to four percent of men.

The employee benefit program will support employees mentally, physically and emotionally whilst at work during their pregnancy, at home on MAT leave, whilst they prepare to return to work and supporting them throughout their motherhood journey once back at work. 

Kelly Thistlethwaite, Co-Founder of FLY Mama states:

“1 in 3 women experience birth trauma, 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in loss and every year around 2,500 babies are born stillborn. Too often following perinatal trauma and loss, the support provided consists of well wishes and a leaflet. Women deserve and need more support and we want to provide this for them. Not only will companies feel supported in the care that they can help provide for their staff, but employee retention, wellbeing and quality of life will be enhanced.” 

The employee benefit programme will also support individuals who experience loss during any stage of their pregnancy whilst at work, whilst at home on bereavement leave, whilst preparing to and once they return to work as well as supporting them should they conceive again, during their pregnancy following loss.

Co-Founder Michelle Norton-Hughes adds:

“Public funding is necessary to make professional support more accessible regardless of income, geographical location and severity of injury/symptoms. Public and private women’s health physiotherapy provisions are not accessible to all, with services being too expensive, not local or waiting lists too long. This means that large percentages of individuals are not receiving the professional guidance and support that they require perinatally.

We have been working on our product development and testing it currently with a direct-to-consumer business model with some amazing feedback so far. We are so grateful for the Innovate UK grant funding, as this will allow us to launch and accelerate our corporate and charity business models getting our support packages in the hands of the millions of women and birthing people across the UK who need it.”