New mums' isolation set to grow as public cuts combine with weakened support networks

Released on: 25 May 2011

NCT to improve local support for mums

NCT, the UK’s largest parenting charity, warns that support for new mums is lacking as public spending cuts combine with the breakdown of traditional support networks. 

A new OnePoll survey commissioned by the charity shows that new mums are becoming increasingly isolated as traditional support from family and friends falls away. Almost a third of mothers (30%) said they lived more than 40 miles away from their close family when they had their first baby and nearly a quarter (23%) didn’t know any other parents in their local area. 

Over half (55%) of those surveyed said they spent less time with old friends who didn’t have children following the birth of their child and 46% said they were worried about getting out and about by themselves with their baby in the first few months. 

Against this backdrop, NCT is concerned that the threatened closure of crucial local services such as Sure Start Children’s Centres will make it even harder for mums to find the support and friendship they need in their local area. 

The survey also highlights the fact that new mums are increasingly reliant on online channels, almost one in five (18.5%) say they use social media networks or parenting forums to seek advice and information on a daily basis. Despite this, more than two thirds (68%) think it is important to meet up with other parents face-to-face, with 75% saying this is because it’s an opportunity to make new friends and 73% saying it gives their baby the chance to meet other children.

In response, NCT is building upon its Bumps & Babies network. The local groups, which are open to all and are organised by parents, for parents, rely on volunteers to offer a lifeline to many mums across the country, providing opportunities to socialise, share concerns and learn from each other. 

NCT Director of Corporate Communications Sally Horrox says:

“New mums often feel isolated and lonely after the birth of their first child, and despite the support available online, there is no real substitute for face-to-face interaction with other parents who live near you. 

“Many of the mums who took part in this research didn’t know where to go and who to meet up with in their local area in the first months after giving birth. This is incredibly worrying at such a crucial time in people’s lives. Our Bumps & Babies network aims to address this problem by encouraging mums to get out of the house and involved in their communities, providing them with a stress-free and friendly environment in which to spend time with their baby and meet other parents. Many of the groups are free, while others charge only a nominal fee to cover costs, so everyone can afford to attend during these difficult times.”

Rebecca Barker, 33 from South Wales, attends her local Bumps & Babies group with her 1-year-old daughter Megan.

“I had suffered several miscarriages before I became pregnant with Megan and my consultant had advised me to take extra time off work. I didn’t have anyone to meet up with during the day as all my old friends were working women and I didn’t know any local mums. My local Bumps & Babies group was a real lifeline for me.  It gave me a reason to get out and about, helped to prepare me for the birth beforehand and gave me the antenatal support I needed afterwards. Having a baby is not an easy thing to do and it was a way for me to make lots of new friends with other local mums and be able to discuss my concerns and worries with them.”