The Duchess of Cambridge has praised mothers offering support to other parents during the pandemic, saying their efforts were so important for “emotional well-being”.
Kate’s comments were made when she spoke to mothers and their “lockdown babies” in a London park during a warm autumn day.
Earlier on Tuesday the duchess held a video call with eight organisations supporting families, from Leeds Dads to the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), to discuss their work helping parents with young children.
The duchess, for whom early years development is a key focus, told them: “A huge well done to all of you, I know there’s a big team of you out there in communities across the country.
“Both William and I hear about how vital these relationships are to families – they’re a real lifeline.
“So to you and your army of volunteers out there, a huge well done.
“I, like you, would love to see peer-to-peer support more embedded and celebrated in communities and society as a whole.”
During her visit to the Old English Garden at Battersea Park, Kate was told how peer groups struggled to meet up in person during the Covid-19 lockdown but kept up their work on zoom and regular phone calls.
Kate, who wore pink trousers and a white t-shirt, met mothers Nalini Sadai and Jessie Brett who provide peer-to-peer mum support for the NCT and both told her they used their own experiences when helping new mothers.
The duchess said: “It’s good being able to listen and being listened (to) while being off guard.
“It is so important for your emotional well-being. With your experiences it’s so important that you’ve been through it.
“Without what you are providing, that form of relationship, you can feel so isolated. You should be very proud.”
Christine Thatai, 37, and Morgan Cassius, 29, told the duchess they held daily 11am zoom calls with other mums via an app called Mush.
Kate removed her sunglasses and smiled, cooing over Ms Cassius’s six-month-old daughter Makena-Grace.
Ms Cassius said afterwards: “I told her lockdown was difficult because I couldn’t go swimming or meeting friends, just stuck inside with the TV.”
An online survey commissioned by Best Beginnings, Home-Start UK and the Parent-Infant Foundation – organisations supporting parents and babies – has revealed a concerning picture for mothers, fathers and their infants living through Covid-19.
The poll, which questioned more than 5,000 people during lockdown, found almost seven in 10 parents (68%) felt the changes brought about by coronavirus were affecting their unborn baby, infant or young child – and reported an increase in behaviour like tantrums and crying.
The survey results indicated that a change in baby behaviour was twice as likely to be reported among those on the lowest incomes, with under 25s particularly affected, with more than half (59%) noticing their babies becoming more clingy during lockdown.
Single mums Irma Martus, 47, and Carol Elliott, 41, told the duchess how they had been helped out with weekly check-up phone calls from Home-Start’s Wandsworth branch during the pandemic.
Kate said: “Does it help emotionally too? You feel less judged? Everybody needs to have those friendships.”