Community spirit among new mums at Queen’s Hospital during coronavirus pandemic

Postnatal ward manager Angeline Brafi. Picture: BHRUT

Postnatal ward manager Angeline Brafi. Picture: BHRUT - Credit: BHRUT

Being a new mum in the middle of a pandemic is a daunting prospect for many – but for those giving birth at Queen’s Hospital, a community spirit has flourished.

Coronavirus restrictions at the Rom Valley Way hospital meant that even though a birthing partner was allowed, they had to leave straight after the baby was born and loved ones were unable to come and visit.

But over the past few months, staff at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust have observed that this lack of visitors has meant the new mums have been talking to each other more and providing support for each other, especially when it comes to breastfeeding.

Angeline Brafi, ward manager on the postnatal ward, said: “We started to notice during the pandemic that more of the curtains were pulled back, while they were previously often closed during family visits.

“I saw that lots of the mums were breastfeeding more freely.

“We’ve seen that without other patients’ partners around, women aren’t embarrassed to start breastfeeding.

“And the community they’ve built up means they talk to each other about it, and give each other support and advice.

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“It’s been lovely to see them encouraging each other, and for something positive to come during the pandemic.”

The trust’s infant feeding team has remained in demand throughout the pandemic to support mums who need advice or support in feeding their newborns.

Midwives are also on hand to guide those who have questions about breastfeeding or who wish to use the hospital’s facilities for formula milk.

Angeline said she was also pleased to see the community feel has extended beyond the hospital, with some women exchanging phone numbers.

She added: “Some of the mums have been sharing details so they can keep in touch and even meet up with their babies - safely. of course! We didn’t see that before.

“I really hope this continues and even though we’ve started to reintroduce visiting, this is at set times so mums still have plenty of time to themselves.”

The latest set of BHRUT visitor regulations includes allowing birth partners to visit for two hours every afternoon.

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