What it’s like to have a baby in lockdown as family support charity says more parents are struggling and need help
Reporter: Alice Richardson
Date published: 14 November 2020
Chloe and baby Noah
The ‘seismic shock’ COVID and lockdown has been for new and expectant parents has been revealed as one first-time mum has described her own experience.
Family support charity, Home-Start, along with partners Best Beginnings and the Parent-Infant foundation, released a national survey of 5,000 parents across the UK which shows the stark effect the pandemic has had.
It found ‘huge disparities’ between different families and communities.
The report said: “Lockdown has been a seismic shock for every family and community.
"Sadly, the voices of the hardest hit have been heard the least.
“The voices of parents with new babies have been absent from key pandemic responses.”
Concerns raised by new or expectant parents ranged from the fear of infection at hospital appointments and economic anxiety, to isolation from loved ones and lack of face-to-face support from frontline services.
The report said: “The aftershocks are being felt across social and geographic demographics.
“Some parents reported enjoying the benefits of a slower life and more time together at home, many more reported anxiety, confusion, grief and loss.
"All have had to navigate huge uncertainty but the experiences of this have been dramatically unequal.”
Chloe Fraser, who is 19, was pregnant during the first national lockdown and later gave birth to her son, Noah, in July.
The first-time mum had a rocky ride and found the experience very hard.
Chloe said: “It was really scary, I was worried if I caught COVID about giving it to my son and in lockdown when you couldn’t see anyone, it was really hard.
“Then my birth experience was awful, I was on my own in the hospital and was having contractions for 12 hours.
"It was a very long night.”
The first-time mum, who lives with her partner Jack, suffered from post-natal depression after having baby Noah.
She said: “There was so much pressure on my shoulders.
"I was terrified of what might happen to my child, and it was me and my son against the world, noone else could touch him.
“I started taking anti-depressants, which helped, but I’ve taken myself off them because I feel 100pc better than I did.
“I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for my partner and Home Start’s help.”
Now Noah is four months old and things are looking up for Chloe.
She said: “The thought that I was there to protect Noah changed my mindset completely – Home Start helped so much to change my mindset.
“Without Home Start I would still be stuck where I was.”
Chloe urged anyone who finds themselves struggling to reach out for support.
She said: “I felt very and down having someone to talk to while pregnant would have helped.
“People need to reach out, even if you’re feeling a little bit down.”
Sarah Cook from Home Start, said the charity has seen an uptick in the number of parents coming to them for help since the pandemic began.
She said: “We support families dealing with anxiety, depression and that’s always there, but the additional pressure of lockdown has brought that to light.
“The feeling of isolation has been made worse, normally after birth you’d be surrounded by friends and family – even if it gives you just half an hour to yourself, to take a shower, or someone to tell you you’re doing really well.
“But that couldn’t happen.
"It’s been really tough, we offer phone call support or over Zoom, Whatsapp or Facetime, but it’s not the same as someone sitting beside you, listening.
“People were going to ante-natal appointments alone too, being given difficult information while not supported by a partner, then having to go home and relay that information, it has been really, really tough for our families.
“And there’s the anxiety of bringing a child into the world at this time, thinking when is [COVID] going to end, what kind of world are you bringing them into?”
Ms Cook said her charity has witnessed ‘a substantial increase’ in poverty since the start of the pandemic with families feeling the financial impact hard.
Home Start has been supporting families with ‘the real basics’, especially following the initial shortages in supermarkets, including milk, nappies and wipes.
Home Start is calling for more investment from national government to fund support for newborns and babies, she argues a lot of the currently available support only kicks in when a child reaches school age – like free school meals.
Ms Cook added: “We know in Greater Manchester there is a concern that a lot of children don’t do as well in longer term outcomes as in other ares of the UK and we’re seeing that gap between rich and poor get worse due to the impact of COVID.
“It’s really important that parents get support.”
Home Start is actively calling for volunteers to help them support families and parents remotely.
If you’re interesting in giving your support, visit: www.homestartmanchester.com
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