The Duchess of Cambridge - who has long been involved in highlighting the importance of the early years and parental wellbeing - has spoken with midwives, health visitors, parents and leading sector experts about the challenges and impact that COVID-19 is having on new and expectant mothers and their families ahead of the UK’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.
Over the last fortnight The Duchess has heard from frontline staff about an increase in maternal anxiety and isolation as a result of the pandemic, with midwives, doctors, health visitors and clinicians urging mothers and families to speak up and ask for help when they need it.
The Duchess took part in a call with midwives from Kingston Hospital last week and on Wednesday held a roundtable call with representatives from the sector.
On this call the group discussed key concerns that new and expectant parents had during this time, including apprehension about going into hospital, isolation and reduced support systems. They also discussed a potential silver lining of lockdown being the increased presence of supportive partners, with new families being able to spend more time together with their newborns.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, of which The Duchess is Patron, have worked with the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to develop national clinical guidance on coronavirus and pregnancy for healthcare professionals, in addition to advice and information for pregnant women and their families. The information can be found here.
As organisations you’re playing such a vital role giving key information. You’re hugely trusted by the public and therefore the information you provide is a lifeline to a lot of people.
The Duchess of Cambridge
The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) were also represented on the call and alongside GPs are the only health professionals who routinely see all families from pregnancy to when the youngest child goes to school. iHV have an area on their website which includes a section on Parenting through COVID-19.
A further list of support services for new and expectant mothers and their families can be found here.
Last week The Duchess spoke with midwives on the frontline at Kingston Hospital, where she undertook two days of work experience last year. She heard about the ways in which their NHS Trust are ensuring that women continue to have the best possible support before, during and after birth and spoke with a new mother on the maternity ward about her experience.
Midwives on the call talked about the impact that coronavirus was having on them and their families, and how important support for frontline workers is. Last week The Duke and Duchess launched ‘Our Frontline’, an initiative which provides round the clock mental health support to frontline staff and key workers. Find out more about Our Frontline here.