Support for new parents

Becoming a parent, either for the first time or again, can be overwhelming and a big adjustment in normal times – let alone in the middle of a pandemic!

There’s lots of support available for new parents, it is just a bit harder to access it at the moment. We have outlined below the support you are still entitled to, and some of ways you can find extra support.

Mum hugging newborn baby

What is ‘normal’ in how you feel - and when you should seek support

  • You may experience the ‘baby blues.’ This might mean:
    – Feeling emotional and irrational;
    – Crying for no apparent reason;
    – Being irritable;
    – Feeling anxious or depressed.
  • This is ‘normal’ in the first few days after birth. It should stop by the time your baby is about 10 days old. Having the ‘baby blues’ is not the same as experiencing postnatal depression.
  • If you are still experiencing these symptoms after a couple of weeks, talk to your GP or health visitor. You may need some more support.
  • You may be anxious about taking your baby to routine appointments. This is understandable, especially at the moment. But it is important to keep to these appointments. Speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor about any specific worries you have.

Where to access support at the moment

  • Midwife and health visitor checks should still be continuing. You should have at least three postnatal appointments from your community midwife. These are usually on your first day at home, day five, and day 10. At the moment, your first appointment should be face-to-face at your home but the rest may be a mixture of at home, in a clinic or on the phone.
  • After day 10, you will be transferred to your health visiting team. At the moment, a lot of these appointments are being offered via telephone.
  • You are entitled to check in with your health visitor and doctor as often as you need to.
  • Newborn screening appointments are continuing as normal. It is important that you attend these.
  • Things may be a bit different to the usual timetable of support, for example you may have your six-week checks and eight-week vaccination appointments combined.
  • If your baby has not had their six-eight week health visitor check, the Institute of Health Visiting have produced some guidance on what you should do.
  • Your support network will be able to help you. Reach out to friends and family.

Things you can do

There are lots of things you can do to support yourself during this sometime difficult time. Talk to your support network about the things you want to do for yourself so that they can help you with it.

  • Make sure you are talking to people. You will probably be exhausted and still recovering physically, emotionally and mentally. Your partner, family and friends can support you if you let them know how you’re feeling.
  • Try to make time for yourself. Even if it is a walk around the block or sitting down on your own, having time to yourself is important.
  • Get help with your baby. If your support network is offering to look after them and you feel comfortable with this, accept the help.
  • If friends and family ask what they can do to help, you can ask them to bring food! You need to stay healthy and it is easy to lose your normal meal patterns and healthy eating habits when you are adjusting to a newborn.
  • Try to get out of the house every day. Fresh air and a change of scenery can really help you maintain your emotional wellbeing.
  • Lots of people will tell you to ‘sleep when baby sleeps’. This can be really hard advice to follow because you may be thinking about the washing you need to do, the dinner you need to make or the floor that needs a hoover. But you are also important. Make sure that at least some of the times baby is asleep you let yourself sleep and worry about the jobs later.
  • If you can, get a routine in place. Try to plan to do things, like visiting relatives every Thursday or meeting a friend every other week. Having this routine when everything else feels unsure can really help you.
  • It is important to do things that make you feel like ‘you’, not just mum or dad. You are important as an individual still.
  • Join local Facebook groups for parents – many areas have them. There are lots of informal, socially distanced meet ups being arranged while more formal and organised groups aren’t able to operate.
  • Some organisations are providing services again. It is worth looking online to see what is available. Call them to find out what they are offering, even if it is not face-to-face, or you have to book due to limited numbers.
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