Becoming a Mum during the pandemic…

My daughter and my daughter-in-law both had their first babies during the third and first lockdowns respectively; so when I noticed an article about welcoming new life under lockdown (by Gray and Barnett) in the latest edition of the British Journal of Health Psychology, I thought it would be an interesting read and it was, and an emotional one too…

It was a piece of qualitative research and it came up with two themes: one “The buck stops with me” and two “Disrupted motherhood”. In the first theme, the mothers spoke abot feeling overwhelmingly responsible for this new baby and I think this is often the case with new mothers anyway, but it seemed worse for them during Covid times, partly because of the confusing information given out by the government and social media on the levels of risk, which meant mothers were often imposing harsher lockdown restrictions than those that were set.

The second theme had two parts to it; firstly the negative aspect of the disruption being destabilizing.: I.e. they had to change birthing plans and they missed out on family and friends seeing their new-born, which in turn removed a significant marker of the transition to motherhood.. One of the mothers spoke about the thwarted desire of a grandmother to hold her first grandchild as visceral and overwhelming….The silver linings of this theme though were more time to breastfeed and also more time with the father around to help out and bond with the child.

The implications of this research for future pandemics are in three key areas that could be improved on if anything ;like this ever happens again:

  1. Better risk communication.
  2. Birthing plans being more flexible and health professionals allowing the fathers to be there throughout labour.
  3. Better postnatal support from health professionals, ideally F2F and virtual drop in clinics for mothers to attend so that they can have some peer support too.

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