A north-east charity has called for more awareness of the ‘horrendous’ impact coronavirus can have on new mothers.
Adjusting to parenthood after delivery is challenging in the best of times, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic.
But many people welcoming new life under lockdown are having to cope without the usual face-to-face support of family, friends and professionals.
North-east charity Let’s All Talk North East Mums (Latnem) was established this year, to provide additional help to new parents in the Grampian area.
Founders Gill Skene and Linsey Singers felt support was “fragmented” in rural locations, such as the north-east and Highlands, and felt they “had to do something” for their part of the world.
Mrs Skene said: “There really isn’t much support in the Grampian area, as I found after having my first child in 2012.
“Before the pandemic, NHS Grampian had applied for more funding and things were looking like they would be better, but coronavirus really has thrown a spanner in the works.
“But maybe, looking forward, this will bring to light real questions over rural access for healthcare, and what can be done to improve this.
“People across the country should be entitled to the same level of support.”
She added: “We’re trying to reach as many new mums as possible just now, and remind them they aren’t alone in this really hard time.
“The impact of coronavirus on mental health is extremely serious, people are horrendously anxious – people who have never experienced poor mental health before.”
Every Friday Latnem, who have hopes of expanding further across Scotland after lockdown, is hosting a virtual meeting for new mums struggling with mental health.
To find out more visit www.facebook.com/letsalltalknortheastmums.
Last night, an NHS Grampian spokeswoman said support was on hand for new parents via GPs, health visitors and the health board’s perinatal mental health specialist midwife.
She added: “These services are still on offer, albeit in a different form due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We would encourage any woman concerned about her mental health following the birth of her child to speak to their GP or health visitor in the first instance.”
Jackie Walker is CrossReach’s Head of Service for Children and Families, which offers services in Buckie.
She offered her advice to new mothers, saying: “It is important that you are able to acknowledge your feelings and ask for help. Who can you talk to? Your partner or a trusted friend or relative? Could you arrange a regular call or video call with them? Think about who your support networks are at this time and use them as much as you can. Do you have a midwife, Health Visitor or GP that you can talk to? Asking for help is showing courage and we can feel better when we reach out to people.
“Allow time for yourself. Right now there are no visitors to your home so no need to have it tidy at all times.
“This is a difficult time for all of us. It is a time when we all should be kind to ourselves in the understanding that this is a challenge personally and globally. Never has empathy been so important.
“Please meet yourself with understanding and reach out to others. It is good to talk particularly when you are heard and understood.”
Director of mental health charity See Me, Wendy Halliday, added: “With everyone talking about Covid-19, it can feel like it’s not the right time to talk about our mental health, particularly other mental health conditions.
“As new parents you will have a lot going on, and whether it’s a friend, family member, your partner or a medical professional, if you are struggling to cope it’s important to speak about how you feel.”