Ayrshire mums fear their ‘pandemic babies’ are losing out on key developmental milestones after being unable to access classes.
For new parents who have brought a little one into the world, lockdown restrictions have become a lonely place – with new mums’ mental health being impacted by the lack of social interaction.
Mum-of-two Louise Robertson runs nurturing sensory classes in Ayr Glow Bambinos which gives mothers and their babies essential bonding time as well as boosting the confidence of new parents.
But the 32-year-old Stewarton Academy teacher from Ayr says mums in the group have been left devastated that they may not be able to return until mid-to-late April after Nicola Sturgeon announced Scotland’s route map out of lockdown.
She told Ayrshire Live: “We all are all devastated lockdown has been really tough for mums particularly first-time mums.
“Mums are becoming so worried about the tag of having a pandemic baby.
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“They have had their full pregnancy during lockdown and now they fear their baby’s social development and sensory development is going to be affected.
“They are terrified that their babies are missing out on the really important things in the first year.
“It is also a boost to the mental health of mums, the class is focused on nurturing and bonding, but all the mums are able to talk to each other and talk about their concerns, they are missing out on that vital time with other mums going through the same challenges.
“I could see how much of a struggle the pandemic was having on some of the mums, it was really affecting their mental health and that is not what they need after just having a baby.
“Some of them might be on maternity leave, with their partners out working, it can be a very lonely time.”
Louise took over The Glow Bambinos class in Ayr in December 2019 after owner Sara Hemmings moved to England after setting up the classes in Ayrshire.
From humble beginnings in her Ayr home’s living room, Louise moved to Kincaidston Community Centre to meet growing demand.
With Covid came a host of challenges with smaller groups, face masks introduced and social distancing measures in place.
But Louise is confident that her classes were safe and secure with no track and trace required at any time through the pandemic, and mums getting a much-needed lift throughout their week.
And she has been left baffled that other groups and classes in England have been allowed to stay open.
Louise added: “There are Glow Bambino groups in England that can still run their classes where baby and toddler groups are classed as essential.
“The class is all about sensory development, we use glow lighting, music and characters, it is about mum and babies being able to bond.
“When lockdown restrictions eased we had to strip the classes back to just 30 minutes, with everything Covid secure, face masks worn, all the kits were cleaned thoroughly.
“We stripped everything back to only being four mums and their babies when usually it would be 10.
“I’ve had some amazing reviews which just show how important the classes are, you can tell these mums really needed it.
“It builds up their and their babies confidence, for some of them it was the only time they would get out of the house all week.”
Louise hopes that the classes will be re-considered as she aims to expand across Ayrshire with classes set for Kilmarnock once they are given the green light.
She added: “I love doing it, I love seeing the babies and the mums and how they develop, I would run it even if it was a deficit. The babies will bounce back and I can’t wait to see them again.”
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