Wigan mums come together for support in pandemic
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Sian Garner, who lives in Ashton, could not see her relatives and groups for parents and babies were cancelled due to the restrictions imposed in the first wave of the pandemic.
So after speaking to another new mum, she decided to set up her own group for parents and tots, following guidelines to make sure it was Covid-secure.
Sian said: “We are on our own and we do need that support from other mums.
“There is nothing out there. The only support we have found is groups online and you don’t really want to rely on what a group says or wait 24 hours to get a reply.
“I knew I needed it because I couldn’t have my friend or sister round for a brew or go to my mum’s.
“I wanted to speak to someone who could reassure me or tell me what my baby is doing is normal.”
Sian gave birth to daughter Olivia on May 4, when the country was in lockdown due to the pandemic.
But she discovered that ante-natal and post-natal classes were cancelled to help stop the spread of the virus.
At four months old Olivia went to her first group, but it was just for babies and so Sian could not socialise with other new parents there.
Sian said: “Even though it was nice for the babies, it was us that needed looking after.”
She spoke to another parent, Kim Bordeur, and they decided to look into setting up their own group for mums within the coronavirus guidelines.
They secured a room at Stubshaw Cross Community and Sports Club and started holding meetings on Monday mornings.
The group is limited to 15 people and social distancing measures are in place, but it is a chance for new parents to meet up, share advice and discuss their experiences.
So far three meetings have been held and the group is proving to be popular.
Sian, who is engaged to her partner, said: “We are all mums. Some people are single mothers, some have twins.
“Everyone is so desperate to get out of the house, especially because the weather means they can’t go for a walk.”
She believes it is already making a difference for the people attending, with two people saying it was the first time they had left the house.
“Everyone is saying what a difference it’s made for them to get out of the house on Mondays. It has been lovely.
“It is desperately needed. There is nothing for us,” Sian said.
Sharing experiences with other new parents can help at any time, but it is particularly important during the pandemic.
For example they have been able to talk about what services are still available for their babies.
Sian, who works as a civil servant, said: “It’s been a really great place to not just talk about your frustrations, but find out what’s going on in different areas.”
Sian says it has helped people to feel less alone as they have seen other people are in the same position.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a big impact on the early months of Olivia’s life, with the family not seeing a health visitor or midwife since she was five days old and injections usually given at six weeks old provided at 12 weeks instead.
Sian, 39, is understanding of the situation, but is still worried about the effect this has on new parents.
She said: “In the Wigan area, that we know of, there is no post-natal support, there are no groups being offered, health visitors aren’t coming out, clinics aren’t open. There’s no-one to speak to if you are concerned.
“I think that’s worse because people are turning to the internet when they have nowhere to go and, as a new mum, you are diagnosing your child with all sorts.”
She hopes the new group will provide the help that new mums in the borough desperately need.
“It’s so important that we have this basic level of social support for our mental health, as that enables us to look after our babies,” Sian said.
“We have been overlooked. We have laboured on our own and had our partners stopped from going to the hospital. It’s important that people realise how much mothers have been affected by the pandemic.
“I do think new mothers have been forgotten about. It’s a traumatic and life-changing experience giving birth.”
The group meets at 11am on Mondays and it costs £2 to attend, to cover the cost of hiring the room at Stubshaw Cross Community and Sports Club. To find out more about the group and to request to attend, search for Mum Club on Facebook.
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