* Written in partnership with Mamas and Papas, providing all the latest guidance and support out there for new parents preparing to have a lockdown baby *
I really feel for all the soon-to-be mums and dads out there expecting a lockdown baby during the current COVID-19 pandemic. This should be a time for planning, nesting, and getting increasingly excited about your little bundle’s imminent arrival. But the pandemic has thrown everything up in the air, stopping us from seeing friends and family, encouraging everyone to stay at home, breaking up our usual support networks, while preventing us from doing so many of the things that we love.
In any normal scenario, this list of restrictions would be tough enough. But when you’re also growing a lockdown baby and trying to make plans for a positive birth at the same time, it’s totally understandable that you might be feeling anxious.
But whatever you do, please don’t worry. Despite everything going on in the world right now, there is still a huge amount of support out there for pregnant couples and new parents navigating life with a new baby in lockdown. You just need to know where to look…
What are the current COVID guidelines for anyone having a lockdown baby?
Latest recommendations for pregnant women
The really good news is that we know a lot more about COVID than we did at the start of the year, which means that the restrictions for pregnant women today aren’t as strict as they were when we first went into lockdown.
While, as a precaution, pregnant women are still classified as moderate risk, there is no evidence that catching coronavirus causes miscarriage or affects how your baby develops in pregnancy. Neither is there any evidence that being pregnant means you are more likely than anyone else to get seriously ill from COVID-19.
As a result, in most parts of the country, the same guidance now applies whether you’re pregnant or not; stay alert and safe through social distancing, wear a face covering when you’re out and about, and avoid anyone who has COVID symptoms.
Rest assured, hospitals and clinics up and down the country are doing everything they can to make sure it’s safe for pregnant women to go to antenatal appointments and have a baby in lockdown. At the same time, they remain 100% committed to supporting your choice about where and how you want to give birth.
The main difference is, if you’re attending an appointment in a hospital or clinic, you might be asked to wear a mask or gown, or to come in on your own. And some of your midwife appointments may now be online, by phone or video call rather than in person.
It is true that, due to staffing shortages and current safety concerns in some areas of the country, some of the usual birth choices may not always be possible (for example, home births in certain Trusts). But to be honest this is no different to how it was pre-COVID, and the recommendation remains the same. Be flexible with your birth plan and be prepared that even the best laid plans sometimes have to change.
The great news though is that in most NHS Trusts across the country, you are now able to have a birth partner with you during labour and the birth itself. Just know that there may be limits on when they can join you in the labour suite (in some cases, only during active labour), or how long they can stay after the birth, depending on where you’re having the baby. The rules also currently vary from hospital to hospital, when it comes to having a caesarean section.
This all assumes, of course, that your birth partner doesn’t have coronavirus symptoms on the day your baby decides to arrive (which would obviously rule them out), so it’s more important than ever to have a backup birth partner on speed dial, just in case.
In almost all circumstances, you and your birth partner will also be tested for COVID when you go into hospital to have your baby.
For more information and the latest guidance for pregnant women having a baby in lockdown, click here.
Don’t rule out pregnancy and new parent classes…so many are still running online
NCT Antenatal Courses
We joined our local NCT class in the run up to having our first baby, and I’ve got to say it was brilliant. Not only to teach you everything you need to know about what to expect during pregnancy and how to support your pregnant other half, but also how to prepare in advance of the birth. You’ll also get to meet other new parents in your local area who are at the exact same stage as you, who will become your own little support bubble once your lockdown baby arrives. To ask advice, meet up with and support each other during the inevitable 3am night feeds.
NCT were quick to adapt their offering when COVID hit; still providing the same expert advice and bringing together local pregnant couples, but doing it online using Zoom and WhatsApp rather than in person. Until the end of January 2021, all their courses will continue to be online due to COVID (at a 15% discount to their usual cost), but they hope to reinstate face to face courses from February 2021, if they can.
I know a few people who had a baby in lockdown who did the new NCT antenatal course online this year, and they all got a huge amount from it, so it’s definitely still worth considering (especially if this is your first pregnancy).
Parents to Be Events
There are also some excellent, informative and free online events designed especially for expecting parents, offering advice and support from the comfort and safety of your own sofa. One of the best has to be the free Mamas and Papas online Parents to Be Events, which give you the chance to watch an expert parenting panel giving talks about all things bumps, birth and babies via a live video call, with a dedicated Q&A session at the end to answer any questions you might have.
Keep your eyes peeled on their website for details of their next event and whilst you’re there, check out their special online M&P Guides, offering advice on everything from breastfeeding and weaning, to tummy time and teething.
Online breastfeeding support
When we were expecting our first baby, my wife and I attended a brilliant breastfeeding clinic in our local hospital (yes, both of us, as research shows you’re more likely to breastfeed successfully if both parents know how it works!).
Looking online, some NHS Trusts are still offering online breastfeeding support during COVID, so do speak to your midwife about what virtual clinics are still running in your local area. But if not, never fear, as you can learn a huge amount by watching the instructional breastfeeding videos from Global Health Media, which are really informative and a great resource for first time parents.
Buying everything you need for your lockdown baby (without needing to leave the house!)
Online Personal Shopping
One of the fun things about preparing for a baby is getting down to the shops to check out (and try out) all the baby kit you’ll need for your new arrival. But in the current environment, with various tiers of local lockdowns coming in thick and fast, nipping down to the shops isn’t quite as simple as it used to be.
So, Mamas and Papas have come up with the perfect solution…online personal shopping. Using live video, one of their in-store Personal Shoppers will provide you with personal, one-to-one help and advice on what you need for your new baby, from car seats to pushchairs and everything in between. They’ll even ship whatever you order straight to your door. And depending on how much you spend they’ll even give you vouchers (worth up to £400!) to spend on your next purchase with them.
Best of all, the Mamas and Papas personal shopping service is totally free, and you can do it all from home in your PJs! Click here to book a slot.
Once you’ve had your lockdown baby, I can’t recommend enough the benefits of getting a subscription to Amazon Prime. Thanks to its next day delivery service, I guarantee it will be your new best friend when you desperately need something urgent for the baby (usually nappies!) but can’t face leaving the house. Plus, if you’ve not used it before, you can try it for free for your first 30 days, so worth making the most of that offer while you can!
New ways to connect with new parents and helpful neighbours in your area
Mush is an amazing app created just for mums, which you can use to find and make new friends that live nearby who are pregnant or have kids the same age. It also allows you to arrange meetups (including virtual ones in the current COVID environment), get advice from parenting experts and fellow mums, and even join chat groups based on everything from your due date to a shared love of Strictly!
Plus, the app has loads of other super helpful features for new parents, including guides to all things parenting (as well as personalised daily guides tailored to the exact age of your baby) and even a platform where you can buy and sell baby kit. A really brilliant app, which has spawned over 2 million friendships since it launched, so well worth downloading.
TheDadsNet is an absolutely brilliant website and Facebook network created especially for dads. I’ve been using it for years, as the website is full of informative articles and advice on all things dad related, and they’ve even got a regular podcast too (called “Don’t tell your mum”) which I’d highly recommend subscribing to…it’s hilarious!
Plus, if you’ve had a baby in lockdown but don’t have many dad mates in your local area, it’s well worth having a look at their huge list of local dad groups to see if there is one near you.
And last but not least, I’d highly recommend checking out the Nextdoor app; a social networking app and website which connects you with real neighbours from your local area who are willing to lend a helping hand during these challenging times.
From dropping off food shopping or taking your dog for a walk if you have to self-isolate, to giving away second-hand baby kit, it really is such a great resource, especially for new parents who have had a baby in lockdown and whose regular support network might have been impacted by COVID. As the famous theme tune goes, “Neighbours should be there for one another…that’s when good neighbours become good friends.” And I think we can all agree, that’s exactly what we all need right now.
So, if you’re expecting a baby during lockdown or you have just given birth, please don’t worry. There’s still so much to look forward to and lots of support out there for you, even during lockdown. And I hope the tips and advice in this blog help to spread reassurance among new parents and make navigating life with a lockdown baby just that little bit easier.