OPINION: Isolation is the worst thing for new mums, so let's try and change things
- Credit: Ruth Davies
Having my fourth baby during a world-wide pandemic has been very different from the pregnancy right through to birth and now beyond.
I’ve spoken many times about the detrimental impact on maternal mental health during this time and how the care has been staggeringly different to before (not always bad but not always good) and how new first time mums that I have been able to speak to have been finding things really hard. I’m not surprised. How could they find it any other way?
It is a shock having a first baby whether you suffer with mental health issues or not, whether you take to it like a duck to water or not or whether you find it has met your expectations or not. You need comrades – I cannot imagine how tough that time would have been for me in isolation.
I had all the help in the world finding friends and places to be with my first because the world was wide open and free for all to join in.
Health visitors, midwives and my GP all pointed me in the direction of baby classes and clubs and every day I would troop off with Florence to something.
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Just a reason to get out of the house, have a cup of tea and be able to say to the woman next to me: "No, my night wasn’t easy either”.
I did lovely things with Florence making memories and friendships to last forever and I’m so grateful.
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I exchanged tips and tricks with these women then just as I still do now.
Had I had Florence, my adored baby girl, and been alone I’d have loved her no less but I would have probably sunk a bit and goodness knows how low. Parenting a new-born is joyfully wonderful but can also be a relentless merry go round that can only be laughed through when you have the right back up.
Thankfully things have moved on over the past 12 months and though new mums had been totally forgotten and isolated at the start of lockdown, we have ways of making it work well now (If you have the money to be able to do so).
I have signed Posie and I up for a baby massage class with Cherish Baby Massage in Norwich, we had a safe new born photoshoot with Charlotte Grey Photography, I hired an at home pottery painting caddy from Dotty Pottery so that I could make tiny footprints and next week Gymboree opens once more so she’s signed up for the new born classes – hurrah!
I can’t wait for this slice of real life, the ability to take my baby out and show her the world and to meet other mums for a high five of we can do this!
It is fabulous that private companies are beginning to re-open but… if you’re not in a financial position to be able to pay for classes (I wasn’t when I had my first baby - just when I needed it most) then what do you do?
This is the area that has been overlooked and I believe absolutely that it shouldn’t have been.
There is no Covid catch up funding in place for those under two years old, they and their parents are the forgotten ones. With 600,000 babies born since this time last year that’s an awful lot of very important earliest years education out the window and an awful lot of people missing out.
So how can it change?
The NSPCC is calling on the government to rebuild the health visiting workforce and prioritise investment in services for parents and babies in England after warning the pandemic has reduced chances of identifying mental health problems in parents during pregnancy and a child’s first year.
The NSPCC helpline received almost 4,000 contacts about parental mental health since April last year increasing by a monthly average of 44%.
To try and rectify the long-lasting impact that will be felt if this continues, they have launched Fight For A Fair Start, a campaign which calls for all families to get the help they need.
I’ll be signing their petition and I’d really like to urge you to do so as well – education for infants and resources for new parents must not continue to be overlooked – isolation is the very worst situation any new mum could find herself in and so let’s do what we do best mums and get this changed by supporting the NSPCC in their mission!
You can sign the petition by clicking here.
Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk