How is having a baby now different to life outside lockdown?

The joy and reality of having a new baby now is very different to life outside of the coronavirus lockdown, childcare experts said.

Mumsnet and Gransnet website founder Justine Roberts told the PA news agency: “One of the hardest things Mumsnet users have found about giving birth during lockdown is feeling isolated.

“Many are disappointed at not being able to introduce their baby to other family members.”

She was speaking after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds gave birth to a baby boy at a London hospital on Wednesday morning.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds expecting a baby
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Carrie Symonds (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Chief midwifery officer for England Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent said: “I am incredibly proud of the NHS maternity team who looked after them and every single midwife across the country who, despite the unprecedented circumstances we all face, are still getting on with their day jobs and supporting new and expectant mums.”

She urged worried expectant mothers to get in touch with their midwifery team.

The NHS says it is important pregnant women still attend their antenatal appointments during the outbreak.

With face-to-face introductions, babysitting sessions and precious cuddles now out of the question due to safety rules, video calls are being used “to help bridge the gap and for those lucky enough to live close, they can ‘meet’ the baby through a glass window or from a 2m ‘social distance’ during their daily exercise”, according to Ms Roberts.

Gransnet site users have suggested setting up online message groups for family members, “so you can send pictures throughout the day (and during the 3am feed) and it can help you feel connected too”, Ms Roberts said.

She said there are now many support groups which have gone online and joining them can help to give the day some structure.

Ms Roberts said: “Mumsnet ante and postnatal forums are also a great alternative to traditional baby groups as a way to connect with others who’ve had a baby at the same time as you and where you can ask all the important questions, like meal suggestions which you can eat one-handed, whether feeding that many times a day is normal (it is!) or how to cope when your partner is constantly distracted by running the country.”

Netmums editor in chief Anne-Marie O’Leary advised all new parents that information ranging from health visitor chats to virtual new mum meet-ups “to help ward off any feelings of loneliness or any anxieties about feeling unsupported” can be found online.

Coronavirus
Ben and Isaac talk to their grandparents Sue and Alan through a window as they self-isolate at their home in Knutsford, Cheshire (Martin Rickett/PA)

There can be no exceptions for the grandparents of the Johnson baby to meet the new arrival if they are over 70, have a pre-existing condition or are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

Ms O’Leary said: “We know it’s hard when all a grandparent wants to do is cuddle that new baby, and all that new mum wants is a helping hand from her own parents, but for now, like any other family, they’ll have to play by the rules like everybody else in order to make sure we get through this lockdown and can all be together again as quickly as possible.”

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says there is no evidence that new mothers who are otherwise well are at increased risk of contracting coronavirus or of becoming seriously unwell.

It notes that a recently pregnant woman’s immune system is regarded as normal unless she has other forms of infection or underlying illness, and that children, including newborns, do not appear to be at high risk of becoming seriously unwell with the virus.

The RCOG said maintaining good hygiene standards is as important as ever and you should ensure the baby is feeding well and gaining weight.

It adds: “Once restrictions are lifted, we would caution against large family gatherings to celebrate your baby’s arrival until more is known about the spread of the virus in the community.”

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