Midlothian anger at baby class Covid restrictions

Scottish Government coronavirus restrictions on parent and baby classes have been criticised by two local businesswomen.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 7:06 am
A Daisy Foundation Midlothian class.Photo supplied by Julia Iddir.

The Scottish Government guidelines for organised activities for children sets a maximum number for indoor organised activities to 10 people with no more than five adults. On Monday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the limit is now 10 adults, as long as all the children are under 12 months old.

However, leaders of parent and baby support groups argue that these restrictions will make sessions financially unsustainable.

They have also warned that the lack of support for new mothers could lead to an increase in postnatal depression.

Julia Iddir, of the Daisy Foundation Midlothian, teaches antenatal and postnatal classes for expectant and new parents. She said: “Expectant and new parents are feeling increasingly anxious and isolated. There is much talk of having missed out on the typical experience of pregnancy and new parenthood, including - but not limited to - learning skills to use with their babies and creating support networks and communities which can be a real lifeline during this time.

“The new guidance announced this week does make a big difference to us, but there are still plenty of classes for 12 months plus that cannot operate under these continued restrictions.

“It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but not a permanent solution.

“Organisers have taken time to ensure that parents and babies are returning to safe classes, with all the necessary precautions in place, and to take these away again after only two weeks will cause a lot of upset, impacting mothers’ mental health. Indeed many mothers report that they actually feel safer attending these classes than meeting people in other places.”

One local mother, Katie Gow, stated: “Motherhood means so much to me and Julia’s classes made me feel so supported and encouraged throughout.”

Claire Houston runs baby massage and baby yoga classes in Midlothian. She added: The restrictions on so many baby and children’s activities are already very tight, meaning many classes, such as music groups, are still unable to resume.

“Those of us who are able to address all the criteria to create covid-safe classes have worked tirelessly to do so - and now all that work may have been for nothing as some classes will inevitably be cancelled and many, many new parents will miss out.”

Announcing the updated guidance on Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We understand the vital importance of parent and baby groups, especially for supporting mental health and wellbeing in the early months after having a baby. That is particularly important just now, as we know the pandemic has the potential to increase stress and anxiety for new mothers.

“We are also, however, trying to keep an extremely infectious virus from spreading and protect the health of families and the wider community.

“I hope that this updated guidance will help us to strike the correct balance. No one wants restrictions in place a moment longer than needed, but until then we are all having to accept circumstances that we would not normally ever want to.”