Every day in the UK we will welcome about 2,000 babies to the world. Many of these babies will have happy, stable childhoods, but not all babies are so lucky. Babies’ brains grow rapidly in the first years of life, and their development is shaped by their environments and experiences. Babies are reliant on their parents, and so parents shape most of their early experiences.
The first 1001 days include pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life. There is clear, evidence that this is a really important phase in your baby’s development and lays the foundation for your child’s future health, wellbeing, learning and even earnings potential.
It sets the groundwork for children’s developing emotional wellbeing, resilience and adaptability; the skills they need to thrive. During this period we can lay a foundation of health and wellbeing whose benefits last a lifetime – and carry into the next generation.
Your Mental Health
The pandemic has had an understandable impact on new parents mental health. A survey of over 5,000 expectant and new parents across the UK found that:
- 61% had significant concerns about their own mental health
- 68% said their ability to cope with their pregnancy or with their baby had been affected
- 25% were concerned about their relationship with their baby, of whom 35% wanted help
Mothers responding to the Babies in Lockdown Survey 17 said:
- “I feel lost in the world. I am mentally, psychologically and emotionally in a standstill.”
- “I think I’m struggling with postnatal depression due to COVID. I was fine before as I was going to places, doing things, going to classes. But now being stuckat home with in laws has had an effect especially being worried about COVID.
- Not being able to see my parents… I feel detached from my baby. I feel as though she doesn’t see me.”
- “It’s made a challenging time unimaginably hard and lonely.”
Remember to talk to your health visitor if you are feeling low. There is lots of support on the Lewisham and Greenwich Health Visitors website. Or visit the Mindful Mums website to find out more about their courses and drop-ins.
If you’ve been struggling financially, especially if the pandemic has hit your finances it can make being a new parent even more difficult.
Mothers of young children living in poverty in Little Village report 28 said:
- “This was my first baby, before she arrived, I was so happy, waiting for my baby, preparing everything, but then my baby arrived, I cannot pay the rent, nobody can support me, and I was everyday worrying… I was all the time shaking, crying. I lost my confidence with my baby.”
- “My situation affects me, it’s because I’m stressed, I feel very pressured, and then maybe I feel a bit more strict, and I get angry with the kids.”
- “I’ve had lots of therapy for my birth trauma, but the financial side of it was extremely stressful also. As my finances improved, so did my mental health. We don’t realise how strong that connection is, when your finances are down, you feel down.”
If you and your children have been living with or are survivors of domestic abuse this can have a real effect on your lives both now and into the future. Unfortunately, domestic abuse can escalate during pregnancy. Please do reach out for support if you are or think you may be experiencing domestic abuse.