Becoming a new mum is a joyous, overwhelming, and terrifying at times and the last year has only exacerbated the issues which affect thousands of new mothers such as isolation and loneliness. In this blog series, we’re speaking to mums who have welcomed a baby in the pandemic to hear about the highs and lows of their experiences and how National Lottery funded projects have supported them.
A Pandemic Pregnancy
Jane Clark, 35, from Dumfriesshire had her firstborn, baby girl Eryn, in September 2020.
Jane found out that she and her and partner were expecting in February, just prior to the first lockdown, after several years of trying to conceive and fertility treatment.
Jane told us: “It was such an anxious, exciting, and overwhelming time and we were looking forward to sharing the news and enjoying the pregnancy milestones with our closest family and friends.
“As we went into lockdown, and then having to shield in the latter part of my pregnancy a lot of my family and friends didn’t get to see me pregnant, we didn’t get to have the baby shopping, the babymoon or the excitement of testing out the prams. Appointments were alone or altered and we didn’t get to meet other expectant parents at antenatal classes, but, despite all this, we were so grateful for our healthy, growing baby.”
Despite all the excitement and happiness for their future bundle of joy, the pandemic inevitably added extra tensions to the pregnancy.
Jane added: “My biggest fear, getting near to our due date, was birthing alone. The fear of catching Covid, my partner catching Covid, or the restrictions changing meaning that I would have to give birth alone – which was a scary prospect.”
Giving birth during a pandemic
Baby Eryn made her arrival earlier than expected at 37 weeks, in September 2020 after an emergency C-section. Jane was discharged three days later.
Jane said: “Luckily, my husband was able to stay as much or as little as we needed which was great. We missed the visitors and introducing Eryn to our family in those immediate days. Only my mum was allowed to visit for short periods. Looking back, I wish I had asked the midwives to take more family photos of us during that time as there’s not many to look back on.”
A different start to motherhood
Jane said: “Coming out of hospital in a pandemic, where we weren’t allowed people in our house was so, so hard. Being a new mum, especially in a pandemic, is exhausting, overwhelming, difficult, lonely, and isolating.
“I had regular visits from the midwife and health visitor teams at the start as we had a rocky time with feeding, weight gain and jaundice, but the support was still less that what would have been in ‘normal’ times, but as the pandemic progressed this became less face to face and more virtual.
“After waiting so long, we couldn’t show off our beautiful baby to all those that had supported us in our journey. I couldn’t get the hugs that people wanted to give. Very limited baby classes were running, therefore meeting other new mums, was really difficult.
“Since we have gone back into lockdown it’s been even harder to meet others and get support. Walks outdoors have been limited by the weather and timing around feeds. I am getting used to feeding/changing Eryn outdoors – which is something that I didn’t think I would have to do in winter!”
How Early Years Scotland supported Jane
National Lottery funded Early Years Scotland were there to support Jane through her start to motherhood, which proved invaluable in these uncertain times.
Jane said: “I found Early Years Scotland through my health visitor, and subsequently via their Facebook page. We have done a couple of their classes including baby massage, story and song time and we are currently doing baby play and outdoor play.
“It’s also given us the opportunity to meet other new mums and their babies, most of who are local to my area which is nice. We’ve been able to chat and share experiences together, and the facilitators have been a great support and have made sure that all the families are included in the sessions and conversations. It’s really helped to combat the loneliness and isolation, and it is finally nice to be actually thinking of meeting up face to face now.
“Eryn loves seeing the other babies too. She interacts more with the Zoom calls than I ever thought she would.”
As for Jane’s advice to other mums who are about to have a child in a pandemic…
“You are amazing! Be gentle with yourself and trust your instincts. If you need help or support please ask for it, it is still there but just in different ways.
“All that matters is you and your baby. Try to make the most of your time together rather than resenting what you’re missing out on. No or limited visitors means that I didn’t need to worry about the house staying pristine!
“I would highly recommend joining any of the Early Years Scotland classes. It has been so valuable to ‘meet’ other mums and their babies and has given us structure to our days and the opportunity to bond and make memories.”
You can find out more about Early Years Scotland and their support for parents and young children on their website.