For the parents of babies born in lockdown 2020 it has been such a hard year. In my role as a breastfeeding counsellor for both Early Nourishment and the NCT I have listened to hundreds of parents in the last 6 months. I am hearing just how hard this year has been and continues to be.
Reflecting on the experiences of parents
Parents have often missed the opportunity to meet other expectant parents at sessions aimed for the antenatal period. Almost all parents have struggled to attend support groups and stay and play groups if they had a baby in 2020. This has meant that new mothers especially are feeling more isolated than normal.
A new mother recently shared with me that she had trouble conceiving and watched all her friends have babies before her. Although thrilled to be pregnant, felt so lonely as a new mum. She described that her good friends were all shattered with older children and she wasn’t able to meet new friends with babies a similar age. She had been diagnosed with postnatal depression and felt that this special time had been stolen from her.
During these six months I have felt how anxious mothers have been. Without the informal peer support they would normal have access to in baby groups, many parents have been confused about what is ‘normal’. Requests for one to one support locally has increased tremendously during lockdown with many mothers needing more than one or two appointments.
Babies born in lockdown report
The Babies in lockdown report highlights some worrying trends. Of the parents that responded to their survey:
- 68% of parents felt the changes COVID brought were affecting their baby, child or unborn baby
- 34% felt their baby was interacting with them differently
- 25% felt concerned about their relationship with their baby
- 47% felt their baby had become more clingy
- 25% felt their baby was crying more than normal with those on low incomes and/or being under 25 noticing this more.
As if this was not worrying enough, families at risk of poorer outcomes such as being low income and/or from black, asian or ethnic minority families have suffered the most.
What can Early Nourishment do to support?
Prior to COVID we facilitated our Nourished drop-in’s and our stay and play groups to help provide support to parents and prevent lonliness and isolation. We have restarted some of these in a covid-secure way and we are also still running sessions on Zoom, as we have the whole of lockdown. An over-arching theme of feedback is that it can be so hard to attend these things when you do not know anyone…so we are hatching a plan for the parents & caregivers of North Devon and Torridge and will be sharing this with you over the next few weeks.