I speak to mums with babies most days and this has continued in lockdown – we have had conversations about specific baby issues but sessions inevitably turn to the lockdown and they are doing.
The mums with new babies at the start of this were welcome of the chance to hibernate with their partners, to get to know their babies, to work out feeding and find some rhythm on their own without well-meaning advice and comparisons.
Now these mums are starting to feel robbed of the maternity leave they were expecting – meeting other mums, seeing other babies, going to groups, being able to ask questions and getting support and reassurance. Not to mention, they are missing out on medical assessments such as getting their baby weighed, although there may be some positives to this.
As a postnatal practitioner, baby weight gain is usually a huge topic of conversation because it is closely monitored but during lockdown mums are being guided by their instinct, their baby’s feeding, the number of nappies and how their baby looks. This could be seen as a huge positive – less stress over the stats and more focus on baby.
Not seeing family is becoming upsetting now as well, Zoom isn’t quite cutting it anymore and families want to reconnect for cuddles and conversation and there is something about staring into the eyes of a baby that can’t be replicated. Family members want to see babies and their parents. New parents want to share and show off their baby.
An interesting comment was made this week by one new mum who said she doesn’t feel like mum because she lives in this lockdown bubble with her baby and, apart from her partner, no-one has seen her in mumming mode with her baby. What an important thing it is to be able to show and share this new role of being a parent with other people, there is some validation with this and, I guess, we normally take some of that for granted.
The mums with slightly older babies are having to think about the end of their maternity leave – returning to work and the issue of childcare is weighing heavy. Going back to work after maternity leave can be a huge change anyway but, under these circumstances, it is more complicated for many families. Lockdown has meant their baby has only known them for months now, so there are concerns about settling in periods within nurseries or with childminders but not all of those are opening and what about the safety aspects of it all? For many families, grandparents are their childcare, this currently can’t work and many will continue to shield and, even if this could become an option, the concern again returns to how well their baby knows them. Some of the mums I have spoken to are considering not returning to work or delaying it for as long as they can, which has its own implications for family finances and careers.
On top of this there are the families with children due to return to school or who are meant to be at university. The issues are varied and very unique to each family unit and they can be overwhelming.
As someone whose business, finances and family decisions have also been drastically affected by lockdown and the covid crisis, if I focus too much on what I can’t currently control, my head just spins. Instead, focusing on the good stuff, however small, makes more of a difference – there is always more to be gained from remembering the good things.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of writing stuff down – capturing the memories and the small things in a day that make us smile, laugh or feel happy. The things that make us feel grateful. This is a time in history so maybe we should be recording it to look back on and remember the moments that are special to us – this makes it personal to us, keeping us in the moment and cutting through the ‘perfection’ of social media and the bigger issues that we can’t control.
We all want this to end and for the world to be safe again but, by wishing it away, we could be missing out on the special moments with our children because they are still happening and lovely memories are still possible.