Chorley photographer running North-West support group for pregnant women and new mums

Chorley photographer Katherine Hancock has set up a Facebook support group for women in the North-West called Chorley, Expecting and New Mums Together in Isolation.Chorley photographer Katherine Hancock has set up a Facebook support group for women in the North-West called Chorley, Expecting and New Mums Together in Isolation.
Chorley photographer Katherine Hancock has set up a Facebook support group for women in the North-West called Chorley, Expecting and New Mums Together in Isolation. | ugc
Many are nauseous, fatigued and riddled with daily headaches, as well as being vulnerable to depression and in the high-risk category for Covid-19.

Giving birth can be traumatic and anxiety-provoking - but now a worldwide pandemic has left pregnant women and new mums even more terrified for their babies, while feeling alone with their worries.

That's why photographer Katherine Hancock has set up a Facebook support group for women in the North-West called Chorley, Expecting and New Mums Together in Isolation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Kath, a Chorley newborn and family photographer, hopes it will help to ease both pregnancy and parenting fears.

Whittle-le-Woods mum-of-two and nurse Lindsey Farrar is offering reassurance to pregnant women about giving birth during the pandemic.Whittle-le-Woods mum-of-two and nurse Lindsey Farrar is offering reassurance to pregnant women about giving birth during the pandemic.
Whittle-le-Woods mum-of-two and nurse Lindsey Farrar is offering reassurance to pregnant women about giving birth during the pandemic. | ugc

The mum-of-two (50) said: "It's a place where women can release their worries and build friendships.

"They're feeling vulnerable but they can't have a hug from their mum. They also can't have family visits or help looking after their child while they're recovering from birth, at a time when babies change so much in just a few months, so I think it's a shame for them.

"It's unbelievable how much the experience has changed for them - more than anyone.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I know so many people who are missing out on special moments like baby showers, pregnancy classes, newborn pictures, baby massage groups, and their last day at work before going on maternity leave."

The private group helps to address fears about giving birth during the pandemic or attending antenatal appointments alone due to social distancing measures by allowing its 90 members to share their birthing stories and ask each other questions.

It also offers advice on topics like packing your hospital bag for labour and how to take your own baby photos at home, as well as providing NHS information.

"The ladies are really supporting each other," said Kath, who believe it is vital for women to have friends they can turn to during a time when they're extremely vulnerable.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It's a nice place to talk, and the birth stories are really reassuring. They're making friends because they're local and I hope these friendships will blossom after the pandemic is over.

"The friends I made 20 years ago at baby classes are still my friends today."

Many pregnant women are also worrying that they will have to face what could be a traumatic labour alone, adds Kath. But those who have just gone through it are reassuring others that while partners cannot stay overnight, they can attend the birth.

"They had visions in their head of being on their own," the Chorley photographer said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"They're also worried about going into hospital and it being full of Covid-19."

One person who knows these fears all too well is mum-of-two Lindsey Farrar. To help ease them in others, the 33-year-old is now telling her own labour story.

Lindsey, a surgical nurse from Whittle-le-Woods, says the virus had left her frightened about being in hospital extensively when her daughter was born.

The 33-year-old, who gave birth at Royal Preston Hospital, said: "I was early with my first child and had to be induced. It was a long, horrible labour.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"This time, I wasn't allowed visitors, so I was apprehensive about being induced as I didn't want to be in hospital for long."

She stayed at home in a lot of pain and when her waters broke around 2am, she couldn't sleep with worry.

The next morning, the hospital told her she would need to be induced if she hadn't started labour by 2am but that her husband could only attend after she was 4cm dilated.

"I needed my husband there to protect me and help me to relax, which I’ve learnt helps oxytocin production and that’s what I need to go into labour. I feared the anxiety would take over," she said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But, despite her worries, she added: "The midwives were lovely, and all wearing face masks, gloves and aprons, and social distancing. They split the ward off just in case they had any Covid-19 patients.

"But apart from that, the PPE and being kept behind a curtain, you wouldn't even know the pandemic was going on in the outside world.

"The midwives were brilliant and one stayed with me the entire time. They kept me calm and I had a room in the birthing centre to myself.

"My husband has anxiety and mum was able to be at the birth of my son three years ago and help him. But only my husband was able to be there this time. But he did really well.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"My baby did have some airway problems after she was born and needed resuscitating.

"The team was there so quickly, she was back in my husband's arms within five to 10 minutes."

It was only when she was moved on to a maternity ward for 12 hours the next day that she began to feel anxious while in hospital.

Still, she said: "The media is making it out to be worse than it is.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The midwives were amazing and they make you feel like you can do it."

She added: "I was more nervous when I got home, as I had postnatal blues.

"My husband is working from home and took an extra week off when the baby was born but my mum isn't able to come round, so emotionally it's been hard. No-one can come round to give me a hug or make a cup of tea but my mum did some shopping for us.

"I've been crying down the phone to her. I even asked if we could move into her house.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I was worried about developing postnatal depression but after 10 days I was fine. I knew I was just hormonal."

She also felt scared about her daughter catching coronavirus.

"You don't want your baby to get it because they're so vulnerable, even to the common cold. I only took my daughter out for her first walk yesterday," she said.

"I definitely feel like we're missing out on things that other new mums normally enjoy. I was out and about visiting family when my son was four-weeks-old. But I won't be able to take my daughter to classes and baby massages in the coming weeks.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We'd timed it perfectly as well, as our son would have been at nursery."

But what has helped her cope with life during lock-down as mum to both a toddler and a newborn is sharing stories and pictures with other women in Kath's support group.

"All the stories have been positive, even for those who had long, bad labours. No-one has said the virus has impacted them," she said.

"So, I hope my tale will help up-and-coming mums who are still pregnant by giving them less to worry about."