Closure of Popular Mother and Baby Groups During Lockdown Breaks Mental Health ‘Lifeline’ for New Parents

New study reveals 4 in 10 UK parents with newborn babies felt unsupported by local health services during lockdown. The nationwide closure of popular parent and baby groups during the most recent lockdown has sparked a backlash from parents with newborns across the UK, who rely heavily on this social interaction and health support during what is a difficult and isolating time for many new mothers. The study, which was independently commissioned by nationwide baby group franchise Baby Sensory, polled several hundreds of new parents across the country on their views around the closures of these essential support groups. The study revealed that despite removing what is a vital lifeline for 95% of new parents polled, 4 in 10 say they felt unsupported by their local health service throughout the lockdown period. 

When asked if they would have continued attending baby groups during lockdown, given the choice by the Government, 96% said they would.  Demonstrating the real impact these sessions can have on wellbeing, a resounding 91% also said they would choose to continue attending these support groups during tier two or even tier three restrictions, if they were allowed to. Parents affected by PND (Postnatal Depression) have also struggled during the recent lockdown period, with 86% of those diagnosed with the condition, saying attending baby groups have been therapeutic in aiding their recovery.   

Dr Lin Day, Founder of Baby Sensory and Toddler Sense said: “New parents rely heavily on their support networks and regular interaction at baby groups to help boost their mental wellbeing and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.  Conditions such as postnatal depression are often exacerbated by feelings of sadness, low mood, lack of enjoyment, loss of interest in the wider world and withdrawing from contact with other people. Although, the issues are much deeper, vital baby and toddler support groups go some way in helping parents who need extra reassurance especially during times when the health service is already stretched.”

While more than one third of parents have found ‘virtual baby groups’ beneficial during lockdown periods, 38% said they needed in-person interaction and support.  93% of parents polled also said that baby groups have supported both their physical and mental wellbeing during the pandemic.

Dr Day added: “Having a newborn can be challenging at the best of times, without the impact of a pandemic. It’s often hard to spot a parent who is struggling. There is also the extra pressure of getting everything right first time. New parents rely on regular social interaction within their community. Baby groups can enhance mood, and wellbeing, and most importantly, help parents to share ideas, experiences, and conversations. Removing this vital social lifeline may cause further anxiety for new parents at a time when mental health is a real concern.”

 

The survey was conducted on 3 December by WOW World Group (part of Baby Sensory and Toddler Sense) post lockdown. Sample total: 540 parents attending Baby Sensory classes across the UK. Multiple choice questions on topic of attending baby groups prior to lockdown.

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