Speedoc spoke to Natasha Cullen, UK Trained and Certified Midwife and Founder of Beloved Bumps, on her experience with caring for women throughout their pregnancy journey and advice she has for first-time mums in Singapore.
There was a time when pregnant women would gather at antenatal classes, would meet up for coffee, would have their families fly over before the due date, waiting for their precious arrival and building the excitement, but the COVID-19 world is very different. Couples aren’t able to go to baby fairs and, whilst normally get stressed out by them, they would spend time as a couple looking at products and picking them out together. Instead, couples are spending countless hours together at home, speaking to families via zoom, buying products online without seeing them first, and having virtual baby showers. Pregnant mums need human connection, they need friends to ask questions in-person, and so COVID-19 has stripped that away from pregnant mums. But there is a silver lining – couples are spending more time with each other, they are slowing down by working from home, they are taking more time for themselves when they would have otherwise been commuting, working and heading home. Couples have more time to connect and to plan their births and life with a baby, and hopefully, this will form a tighter family network once the baby is born.
I would say do prenatal yoga – this will not only help you to connect with your baby, but also strengthen you for labour and birth, and the best bit is because everything is virtual you don’t have to go too far to do it! Take the time to watch what you eat! Because we can’t go out to restaurants, it’s a great time to focus on your diet and make sure you are eating well, and having home-cooked food. Thirdly I would say download an app like Headspace or Expectful that you can listen to when you are going to sleep, when you are feeling anxious, or when things get too much – mental health is so important.
Spend time researching products together for your baby – this will hopefully lead to conversations about life with the baby and get you both excited! Develop and write your birth plan together, know what Is important for both of you to achieve a positive experience. Start to write a list of what roles each of you plays as a parent – is Dad going to be chief nappy changer? Is mum going to solely breastfeed? Is Dad going to take the baby for a walk each morning? This way you start to build out what your role looks like, and don’t leave it up to expectations – having a baby can have a massive effect on your relationship, so it’s important to build the foundations and set expectations.
The mums who we have done virtual visits for have been mostly positive – in the majority of our clients, the Dads often go back to work within a week or 2 of having their babies – so most of our mums have said what a positive thing it is to have a baby at the moment, because whilst Dad is working, he is doing so from home so is still present to help with little tasks and hold baby whilst mum grabs a shower etc! The hardest things most people have said is that they don’t know when they are next going to see their families, and when the grandparents will meet their grandchildren.
In Singapore there isn’t a home visiting service that the hospitals offer – Beloved Bumps provides postnatal home visits to new parents to be an emotional support for mum, check she is recovering well, talk about her birth experience and answer their questions (there is normally a list!). We also assess and help with lactation issues, and check that the baby is thriving too. One thing we have noticed since the Circuit Breaker is that because we are unable to do these visits, mums are not getting home support, and we have seen a huge rise in the number of clients topping babies up with formula, as they don’t have anyone coming to them when they first get home to reassure them that baby is feeding well, that it can be normal for babies to be unsettled on their first night home, and so they are giving formula to babies as they assume the baby is hungry – this is something we didn’t see so much of before! Other postnatal experiences are much the same, except that mums are a bit more cautious to go back to the hospital to see the gynae and paediatrician with their newborn babies, with some moving to children’s doctors based in clinics for the 7 day check rather than going back to the hospital.
Natasha is originally from the UK, although she has spent most of her life living in South East Asia – firstly with her parents, and now with her own family. She is a mother of 2 beautiful and active boys, a UK trained and experienced senior midwife and the founder of Beloved Bumps. Beloved Bumps provides prenatal and postnatal services to couples in Singapore, and over the past 2.5 years has built a close-knit community of like-minded parents that they are very proud of.
Check out Beloved Bumps at http://www.belovedbumps.sg/