Expecting and New Mums in Lockdown
As most of my readers know, I am a part-time, family and birth photographer and videographer, and lockdown has hit my business hard. Sessions have had to be rescheduled, future bookings have had to be pushed back and families are losing out on perfect portraits that shout "this is us".
HOWEVER... I have been using my time wisely, bringing all my knowledge and connections, with pregnancy and baby businesses, that I have gathered over the past few years and created a local mummies' support Facebook group (now called "Expecting and New Mums Village NI").
This is an especially scary time for mummies, whether they are expecting soon or in the near future, or maybe they have had baby just before or during lockdown.
The support has changed slightly, and sadly, but through no fault of the midwifes and pregnancy/baby communities.
Mummies are losing out with in-person, antenatal classes and meeting new mummies, as they need to stay home and stay safe (which is vitally important). They are lonely. Alone. Isolated from that growth, the opportunities, the outings with other mummies and family members. Their pregnancy seems like it's almost been robbed from them.
The same goes for mummies that have had their baby before or during lockdown. They were expecting to have that preferred birth that they had hoped and dreamt for, but have been told due to circumstances, services are being reeled in and limited (for now and can differ from a case to case basis); they were expecting to be at home, with their parents coming to visit, with friends showering them with gifts and baby cuddles, but because of the restrictions, no one has been allowed to leave their home (only for daily walks and essentials) and those outside of the household have been told not to enter.
Some mummies are blessed to have their partners or husbands, maybe even parents living with them, and they have that support which is absolutely amazing. Other mummies are on their own, and maybe with other kids too.
My reason for this group was to tell that mummy, who is feeling numb about the whole thing, whether they have a full house or live in 1-bed house, that they are not alone. To the mummy, who has had a bad day and feels like a crap mummy, that they are not alone. To the mummy who cries daily because she misses her mum or her best friend, that they are not alone. I am not a mummy myself, but I feel so strongly about helping local mummies and that they mustn't be forgotten amidst a pandemic!
I have created a community; a village; a safe haven for mummies to pour their hearts out if they need to, or to ask questions about their pregnancy, appointments, how to prepare, what to expect with a newborn, how to prepare for the postnatal period and so much more.
The group has grown with over 200 members, of local mummies from the Lisburn, Belfast and Antrim area, and now that we are slowly coming out of lockdown and that I will be back to work soon, I have brought on two volunteers - Michelle from @mmcrochetandcraft and Nicola from @doulanicolajayne, who have been amazing throughout all of this and have participated in LIVE talks with me.
I want to thank the amazing ladies that have came on so far, not only to share details of what they are offering during lockdown, but to provide their time, passion and knowledge to mummies in the group.
A Special Thank You...
Thank you to Anne Glover (Mother Doula) for coming on and sharing her passion for being a doula and how mummies and daddies can prepare for the postnatal period at home.
Thank you to Leslie Altic and Emma Fraser (Belfast Baby Company) for coming on and providing vital information that mummies should consider when planning for their birth, and emphasising that they have choices no matter what.
Thank you to Emma Getty (Love Your Birth NI) for coming on and sharing her knowledge about hypnobirthing and how it is not only supports mummy during pregnancy, labour and beyond, but also the birthing partner too.
Thank you to Lisa Heeney (AromaBump) for coming on and showing how aromatherapy aids mummy during pregnancy, birth and the 4th trimester, especially to create a calming environment which can have an impact on others in the home or room as well.
Thank you to Laura Nelson (Strong Mums NI) for coming on and educating mummies on postnatal exercise and how it not only benefits the physical health, but their mental health too.
Thank you to Susan Wallace (Settled Petals) for coming on and chatting about the classes she currently offers and talking about infant sleep and how to promote sleep in your baby, including the use of baby massage.
Thank you to Michelle Bradley (We Are Pangs) for coming on and sharing her personal story with mental health and how the charity helps mummies and families get the support that they need, and helping to break that taboo of talking about mental health.
Thank you to Christen O'Neill (360 Health) for coming on and address the importance of pelvic health during pregnancy and after having baby, and how mummies (and all women) should be building their pelvic floor daily, in preparation for birthing your baby.
Thank you to Michelle Moffett (MM Crochet and Craft) for coming on and sharing a personal story about breastfeeding and the benefits it can have on a woman's fertility.
Thank you to Kelly Connaghan (Lough Road Yoga) for coming on and sharing information about her pregnancy yoga and baby massage classes, and how these can really help mummies to improve their physical and mental health, as well as baby's health.
Thank you to Katherine Corthorn (Sign and Sign Belfast) for coming on and talk about her classes, alongside Christine's classes, that they are currently offering online for mummies, and how sing and sign classes can really improve understanding of baby's 'language' from a young age.
Thank you to Morna Nelson (Morna Nelson Nutrition) for coming on and discussing what foods mummies should be eating during pregnancy, not just to help baby grow, but to keep their bodies energised and preparing their body for birth and for the postnatal recovery.
But is this the end?
I don't want this group to end. For it to close down. So many mummies have really benefited from the information that has been shared by local businesses, but mostly from other mummies sharing their experiences.
The group has now been opened up to mummies across Northern Ireland, and I will continue to share supportive, evidence-based information and other talks when I can.
If you would like to join, or know someone that would benefit from our local community, you are very welcome! Just click on the image below!
There are so many mum groups out there, and I don't claim to have all the answers in mine. But what I do know is, these mummies have came through this pandemic, TOGETHER. And hopefully stronger, knowing they have choices and feeling more educated about what is out there, not just online but once lockdown has completely lifted.