New mums say thank you as virtual support group celebrates first birthday
- Credit: East and North Herts NHS Trust
A group of new mums who have been meeting virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic presented an NHS worker with a special keepsake to thank her for bringing them together.
Hayley Dean, a maternity associate practitioner at East and North Herts NHS Trust, supports women before and after pregnancy in Royston, Buntingford and Sawbridgeworth, as well as surrounding villages in East Herts.
She established three breastfeeding drop-in clinics in Bishop's Stortford, but these had to stop in March last year when the UK went into lockdown, so she launched online meetings instead.
The aim was to help new mums continue to form relationships and support one another, with Hayley on hand to offer guidance on breastfeeding and maternal wellbeing.
The weekly group started with just a handful of members, which quickly rose to around 30 - and recently celebrated its first birthday. To mark the milestone, group members surprised Hayley with flowers and a book featuring photos of all the new mums and their babies as a way of saying thank you.
Hayley, who has two children of her own, said: "I was in complete shock – I wasn’t expecting it at all! I was just doing something I felt was needed, so these lovely ladies didn't need to thank me.
“I didn't want new mums to feel isolated when we went into lockdown, so supporting each other virtually was the next best thing! Many friendships have been made over the past year, and it’s been beautiful to see."
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Retired lactation consultant Frances Smith, and baby carrier expert Jessica Kensek, often join the meetings to answer questions and offer advice.
Hayley's manager, community midwife team leader Sally Woodhouse, said: "The success of the group is due to Hayley's enthusiasm and passion to help these new mums.
"She is totally committed to her role and when we as midwives thank her for the support that she gives our women, she always replies 'I love my job' - and she truly does!"
The group continues to meet virtually on a weekly basis on Thursdays at 11am.
To find out more, you can contact Hayley by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.