The first 1000 days of a baby’s life are the most crucial in terms of development.
As part of these 1000 days, the birth of a baby and the perceived birth experiences of the parents can have a lasting impact on the child’s life.
Subjective birth-experiences have been shown to be associated with the development of post-traumatic stress symptoms in the mother and have a long-lasting impact on the child's behavioural and emotional state.
So Elise Farley, new mother of a lockdown baby and epidemiologist, tells Parent24.
"My son was born the day before lockdown and my experience inspired me to want to learn more about the experiences of other parents, and try to learn where support could be provided during this time," she says.
This is why she and a team of local women have created a survey to assess the experience of South African parents.
"Our study will allow us to describe the birth and new parenting experiences in South Africa during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic," she says, "to understand the impact of the pandemic on the experiences of mothers and fathers and to identify areas for interventions to support new parents during this time."
The research team is made up of four women: Tammy Phillips, and epidemiologist; Emma Numanoglu, a mid-wife and lactation consultant; and Amanda Edwards, a health systems researcher.
"The Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown has had widespread global ramifications on every aspect of life, including population wide mental health implications," Farley says.
She explains how the lockdown has meant that people’s social networks and support structures have been severely altered due to the restrictions on seeing family and friends, routines have been drastically changed and, for some, their livelihoods have been affected.
"Both having a baby and living through lockdown are stressful situations where support is imperative to ensure positive outcomes for both the parents and children," she says.
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