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.
Chief midwifery officer for England Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent said she is ” incredibly proud” of the NHS maternity team who looked after them and of all the midwives who “are still getting on with their day jobs” during the pandemic.
She urged worried expectant mothers to get in touch with their midwifery team.
The NHS says it is important pregnant women attend their antenatal appointments .
Giving birth during a lockdown is a “really different experience” than at any other time, according to Sarah McMullen, of the National Childbirth Trust.
She said they have had reports of people feeling “a lot of anxiety and worry” in the build-up to the big day due to fears about the potential impact upon their care, whether their partner will be able to attend and infection risks.
It can then be a mixed picture after the birth, Ms McMullen added, with some parents feeling “they are missing out on practical support, but for other people there is the chance to get a bit of protected time together”.
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.
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.
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.
Maintaining good hygiene standards is as important as ever and people 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.”