Here's what help you can get if you're a new mum in lockdown

Becoming a mum can be an emotional roller coaster at any time – but when lockdown means limited contact with family and friends, it may feel even more daunting.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 7:00 am

Help is on hand, however, thanks to Blackpool Better Start’s new service to provide families with practical and emotional advice on feeding infants and young children.

The team has joined up with healthy choices charity, HENRY, to offer guidance on breastfeeding, preparing bottles or introducing solid foods.

Bispham mum Vicky Spencer, who has three-year-old Thane and three-month-old Xander, knows first-hand the feeling of being a new mum in lockdown:

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Vicky Spencer is pictured with three-month-old son Xander

She said: “I’m seeing how different things are this time round and how the limited contact with friends, family and health services can be a major difficulty.

“The panic new parents can sometimes feel is quite profound – which is a totally natural response – but right now, that’s compounded by feeling like you’d be a burden on already over-

stretched healthcare resources.

“But help is available and I’d urge people to reach out.

Gemma Umney, the new HENRY infant and young child feeding service manager

“HENRY is a much-needed listening ear and reassurance. There’s no question or worry too small.

“It’s a ‘one-stop shop’ so referrals can be made for additional help, if needed.

“As a new mum, especially with other children around, it can be hard finding the confidence and time to make lots of different phone calls trying to find answers or book appointments.

“It’s comforting to know someone can help lighten that load.”

With Covid restrictions reducing the face-to-face peer support that many new parents traditionally access, the new HENRY Infant and Young Child Feeding Team is ensuring parents can

seek advice via its telephone helpline and email service.

Virtual workshop sessions and an online support group will also provide safe advice on milks and weaning techniques.

Blackpool Better Start – a 10-year lottery funded programme – aims to improve the life chances of babies and very young children in the town. By working with HENRY, an Infant and

Young Child Feeding Lead and four part-time Infant and Young Child Feeding Practitioners have been recruited to enhance family support in Blackpool.

Gemma Umney is the new HENRY infant and young child feeding service manager in Blackpool. She said: “Becoming a parent can be challenging at the best of times but the Covid-19

pandemic and lockdown measures have intensified many feelings – so it’s more important than ever that we are here to listen to any worries or concerns.

“We’re here to provide that extra support to mums and dads wherever they are on their feeding journey.

“We want them to know that they are only a telephone call or email away from expert guidance and reassurance; however they are choosing to feed their baby.

“Our team has a wealth of experience of working in the community and are here to provide local families with information or signpost further help if needed.

“It’s always helpful to talk to other parents for company, support and tips and so we will be developing an online support group through our Facebook page. We hope it will make a big

difference for our families to share their experiences together and knowing there are others in the same position.”

Clare Law, deputy director of Blackpool Better Start, added: “Like many organisations, Better Start is continually adapting to new ways of working to support parents in our community. The

new HENRY service will operate remotely for the time being and, when safe to do so, it will be fantastic to see the team getting out in the community and delivering face-to-face support to

new parents.”

“As with many of our other programmes, we are working with Blackpool’s health visitors, midwives and health teams to make families aware of the extra help that’s available – together we

can make sure families are supported at every step of their child’s development.”

- Baby Cafe Online: Small virtual sessions for local families providing support for breast, bottle and mixed feeding and starting solids. Every Monday at 11am

- Starting Solids Workshop: Small virtual workshops for local families exploring when, how and what to feed your baby. Dates: April 16 and 30, May 7 and 21, June 11 and 25.

- Blackpool parents can call an Infant Feeding Helpline on 07305 002 904 anytime Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm for advice. Or visit https://www.facebook.com/HENRYinBlackpool

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