Expectant mum, Stacey, is just six weeks away from giving birth to her first baby - an exciting and special time in normal circumstances - yet she is surrounded by uncertainty.

Covid-19 means that the hospital she's booked in to has had to cancel any antenatal classes and she still doesn't know who her birth partner will be because her sister, who was going to fulfill that role, is currently working amongst Coronavirus patients.

She describes being pregnant in the midst of a pandemic as simply 'terrifying'.

“I’m a first time mum and all the antenatal classes have been cancelled so it’s kind of like I’m going into it a bit blind. There are a few online classes but I think a lot of pregnant women do the courses specifically to meet other mums.

"It can be quite lonely having a newborn so having the opportunity to meet other mums in your area is part of why most of us do the courses.”

Thankfully, Stacey, who's an online English teacher, has been able to access our NEWPIP (Newcastle Parent Infant Partnership) service, the only project of its kind in the region and one of only 27 nationally. It provides a range of help for mums and dads to encourage bonding between parent and child.

Heightened anxiety

Stacey has been receiving online psychotherapeutic counselling from our professional parent infant therapist, Marie Clark. Stacey said: “It's been very useful especially as I already suffered from anxiety prior to pregnancy.

Coronavirus didn’t help the situation, it made me feel even more anxious because I was trapped in the house all the time so it’s been invaluable to be honest. They’ve helped me a lot. I had a meltdown a couple of weeks ago but my therapist, Marie, was fantastic. She talked me through it and calmed me down.

Marie says it’s a worrying time for anyone, particularly for expectant and new mums. “A lot of what we do at the moment is helping people feel less anxious. A lot of what worries people is about what’s happening and how it’s going to impact on them and their babies.

“Normally we go to people’s houses but at the moment it’s all over the telephone or online.

We work alongside people to understand what’s going on and help people think about ways they can be creative – how they might plan their day to go out safely or how they can keep in touch with people for example. It is tricky, it’s a highly anxious time and when people are already having difficulties, it really is adding an extra layer.

Because some parents and parents-to-be don’t have computer access, Children North East would like to be able to offer computer tablets for them to borrow so that they can have face-to-face counselling online and so they can join in with our 'Boogie Bairns' music sessions.

NEWPIP service manager, Lesley Hutchinson said: "We'd love to be able to source six computer tablets which would really help those parents and parents-to-be who don't have access to our online counselling face-to-face at present."

If you work for a company who can help with either new or nearly-new technology, please contact: [email protected]

New support line

 Our NEWPIP team have responded to the Covid-19 crisis by launching a special Support Line for parents and expectant parents.

If you are expecting a baby or have a baby or toddler under the age of two, our friendly and experienced team are here to help.

To find out more, call Janice in our NEWPIP team on 0191 2399956 Monday-Friday between 10am-4pm and she will arrange for you to speak to a member of our team.