Sandy Rashty

New mums are pulling together during Covid

First time mothers are finding support from the community using WhatsApp and online, explains Sandy Rashty

February 12, 2021 10:11

Becoming a first-time mum in the middle of a global pandemic has, in some ways, been a blessing.

As the world stands still and daily digests are filled with explosive headlines, we have stayed safely cocooned in our newborn bubble.

Free from social pressures, we have spent more time together as a family than we probably ever will again. We have had time to decompress whilst calling in help (and hot dishes) from our support bubble. We have also benefitted from delivery services offered by local kosher restaurants, whose menus we are now very familiar with.

Whilst my husband spends the week at his makeshift work-desk in our living room, he still finds the time to play with our early-rising son in the mornings and bathe him in evenings. How many of our fathers, or grandfathers, found the time to do the same?

None of us expected this, of course.

Ahead of the pandemic, friends envisaged coffee mornings in Brent Cross, postpartum fitness groups, pushing our buggies up Primrose Hill, and newborn classes to give us the tools to stimulate our babies, whilst giving us a chance to meet other mums.

Such classes are now held online but I have yet to see the appeal of someone shaking a sensory disco ball at my baby over Zoom. And with nowhere to go, all the royal baby-inspired outfits I bought with cute collars have gone to waste, but for the occasional picture. Instead, I spend my day in loungewear and he spends his in supersoft sleepsuits.

But there have been challenging moments.

The antenatal classes that were meant to explain the basics, from feeding to teething, were cancelled. After the birth, routine in-person appointments with Health Visitors were cancelled and visits from midwives, including those where the baby would be weighed, were significantly reduced. We bought a scale but have never quite worked out how to get him to stop wriggling on it. And due to the bureaucratic chaos caused by the pandemic, we got lost in our GP’s system, meaning our baby’s week six check-up was inadvertently pushed back to week 10. We had no idea a check-up was even due.

Though such issues are trivial compared to the pain and loss suffered by so many people over this period, many parents have struggled to adapt to this so-called “new normal”.

Parenting is confusing, especially when you’re a first-timer. Perhaps that is why so many of us have turned to social media for information. For better or worse, it’s the easiest way to access updates in lockdown. Ignoring vanity posts by celebrity mumfluencers, there is a wealth of content. Support groups, verified medical workers and nutritional experts have shared information and guidance that was once been provided by discontinued services.

And it has allowed small communities to form. For instance, I am now part of a 90-strong (and growing) WhatsApp group of Jewish mums who have given birth over the pandemic or are expecting to very soon. It is here that hearty “Mazel Tov” messages are shared as new babies are born every week. Women ask questions free from judgement, receive advice and hear about other people’s birth experiences. Top tips are openly given, from which product to buy to which first aid course to attend or which Mohel to use — as are notifications on the latest online baby sales.

It’s a small community but it is an amazing one. It serves as the best Jewish Mother’s directory, ever.

So, whilst this period has been a miserable time for so many, it is also a time to see the positives and welcome the gaps that we, as a community, have started to fill.

February 12, 2021 10:11

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