Devon

Coronavirus: 'Lockdown completely unprepared me to be a mum'

Carla with baby Troy Image copyright Carla Fitzgerald
Image caption Carla gave birth to her first baby Troy during lockdown

A first-time single mum who gave birth last month has said lockdown left her "completely unprepared" for her baby.

Carla Fitzgerald, from Devon, said Covid-19 prevented her having a support network of new mums and antenatal classes to help her.

Ms Fitzgerald, 29, who gave birth to her son Troy in mid-July, spent lockdown alone in her flat in Paignton.

The NHS said services were "there and open" for new parents and urged anyone "struggling" to come forward.

Ms Fitzgerald said she was suffering from sleep deprivation and "the shock of being a parent is harder than I thought it would be".

Image copyright Carla Fitzgerald
Image caption Despite the hurdles Carla said " I wouldn't change it for the world" as she thanked her family for their support

"I feel sick and anxious all the time trying to be the best mum for Troy. I get tearful at the responsibility I now have," she said.

"Covid-19 has completely unprepared me for first-time motherhood as I couldn't build a support network of mums going through a similar situation or go to antenatal classes to get the head start I needed to prepare me to be a single mum.

"It's things like having a hug, and someone saying 'keep going' and reassuring you you're doing fine when you've had a rubbish night's sleep and feeling at your lowest."

Ms Fitzgerald has the support of her family but said the lack of human interaction - as she has feared exposing her baby to coronavirus - has caused her social anxiety.

"I'm constantly aware of wearing masks, I don't like going out and about as people get so close and I feel people are oblivious that the pandemic is still out there."

Sarah McMullen, from The National Childbirth Trust, urged those feeling anxious to join online postnatal groups and talk to their GP for further support.

She said new parents could still meet while observing essential hygiene standards and social distancing and access "much-needed social support".

The NHS said "to anyone who is struggling at this difficult time... our services are still available, with many offering flexible options to keep people safe".

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