MOTHERS across the country are guiding one another through pregnancy and parenthood in a pandemic after a Bradford mum set up a dedicated group.

Inspired by her own experiences, Vicky Davis, a mum-of-four from Queensbury, set up the group 'UK Pregnant & New Mums on lockdown' in March last year.

Now with over 6,000 members, the group is a safe space for women to discuss health, wellbeing and baby advice with a number of midwives and health professionals online too.

Vicky said: "I didn't think it would have 100 people, let alone 6,000. It's just grown.

"I've had a lot of mum's say they really like the group."

Despite her experience as a mother, Vicky has also found solace through connecting with other mum's - describing her awareness that what her nine month old daughter, Laila-Rose, perceives as normal is anything but. As someone with post natal depression, the group helps Vicky get through periods of sadness.

In a message to any new mum's, Vicky said: "Keep strong and don't worry too much. Just try and relax and enjoy the pregnancy, the labour and the baby."

Indiya's story

One of those who benefitted from the group is 20-year-old Indiya Palmer, a Wibsey lass who had Teddy six months ago.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Indiya Palmer's partner with baby TeddyIndiya Palmer's partner with baby Teddy

Indiya said: "It is really hard emotionally to be a mum, a first time mum, in these times. There’s nobody about to help and as they say it takes a village to raise a child. He’s also severely attached to me as he is literally with me 24/7, there’s been no passing about to hold the baby.

"I found out I was pregnant in the November, I had a gender reveal party in late February just before lockdown. We felt so blessed we got to celebrate our baby boy with our family before lockdown hit, seen as we didn’t get a baby shower and barely anyone has actually met Teddy.

"I work at the LGI, so as you can imagine it was a scary time for me as they originally told pregnant women to shield. They then changed their mind and we didn’t have to shield. So I went back to work until I was 28 weeks. I was constantly on edge, I would sanitise my hands literally after touching anything.Once 28 weeks hit I was at home completely isolated as my partner was at work still. Towards the end of my pregnancy I had some complications and was going to the midwife every couple of days, and had extra scans and many late night hospital trips. It was awful not having my partner there with me as it was a worrying time and he just had to stay at home.

"Vicky's group has been useful as before I had my baby I could go on there to see other people’s experiences of giving birth in Bradford.

"The care I had from the midwives and doctors was amazing and I will forever be grateful to them. Things got a bit complicated in my birth and scary, but they always explained everything to us in a way we understood. My beautiful boy was born at 5.04am and my partner got to stay with us for a further 13 hours. I was so worried my entire pregnancy that my partner wouldn’t be able to stay long after the birth, but the midwives were so accommodating to us and let him stay for so long."

Indiya added: "We will look back and feel blessed about all these extra moments and cuddles we’ve had with our babies. They won’t remember not going to baby groups, they won’t remember they saw the postman or Amazon driver more than their own family so cherish these extra moments, you’ll never get them back."

Georgia's story

Shipley's Georgia Fitzpatrick had her first child, Myla, just before Christmas. Having joined the group at eight weeks pregnant, Georgia has made friends across the country and plans to meet everyone after the pandemic.

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The 24-year-old said: "I found out I was pregnant with my first child in April which was a lovely surprise amid a pandemic. Unfortunately the same week I was let go from my job role due to lower work volumes because of Covid-19 which triggered a lot of anxiety and worry, as I didn’t know how I would be able to buy all the necessities for our baby on just one income.

"I spoke to the doctor who put me in touch with my local midwives who advised services were now over the phone only until the 12 week dating scan which I was to attend alone. The wait between finding out I was pregnant at five weeks to being able to speak to a midwife at 12 weeks felt like forever. The whole way through my pregnancy was filled with anxiety due to the pandemic and not being able to see our families for support and guidance.

"I had to attend all NHS scans alone which is scary in case there is any issues and also meant my partner missed out on precious moments during our first pregnancy. I was admitted on to the maternity unit several times due to reduced movements on my own which is terrifying when you are unsure on if it will result in a positive outcome.

"I had to be induced due to reduced movements at 39 weeks and four days and my partner was allowed to attend for the whole of my induction and labour which I am so grateful for. The midwives at the BRI was incredible from start to finish, they put my mind at ease and provided me with information on how to breastfeed correctly.

"Being a new mum currently is very lonely as you are unable to meet with your support system or meet other mums at baby groups. My partner is currently working from home which is a positive during lockdown as it provides me with some support, although it is difficult having to work from home with a newborn."

Georgia added: "Find a support system you can lean on for advice and reassurance. The silver lining of a lockdown is that you get more time with your baby to enjoy as a new family together so take every day as a blessing."

Sarah's story

Sarah Williams, 28, from Cleckheaton is mum to seven week old Edith. Living miles away from her mum and step father, Sarah said motherhood in the pandemic is "gut wrenchingly heartbreaking". Her close family have only held her daughter once.

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Sarah said: "It's so bitter sweet, I keep telling myself that it's better to be safe than sorry but it still upsetting. I gave birth in Pinderfields. After being induced Monday and giving birth Thursday I can now fully understand why we appreciate and love our NHS. The staff were amazing.

"Emotionally I'm trying to stay strong but if it wasn't for my partner I would have broken a few weeks ago.

"Oh my goodness, that facebook group! I wish I would of seen it whilst I was pregnant! I have learnt so much from it, and I like to think I've helped so many people from giving my opinions and advice. Everyone is willing to help each other and, to be honest, it is a bit of a lifeline.

"My message to other mums right now is that I know it's upsetting going to all of the scans and appointments on your own, but the amount of staff that are on our side and agree that a partner should be present is unbelievable! Stay strong, keep washing your hands and wearing face coverings. It's not just for your sake now, it's for your babies. It will all be worth it in the end."