Mum holding up son in the park

Find out how you can socialise with others online and even join Walk & Talks in your local area, as well as what the latest government restrictions mean for you.

What are the restrictions at the moment?

Following announcements on Monday 4 January by the English and Scottish governments, lockdown measures are now in place across all of  the four nations. Read more about what you can and can't do here. However, parents were left with many questions and concerns following the announcement in England.

At NCT, we have been following details from the Prime Minister’s announcements and the subsequent legislation, especially where these make changes from previous arrangements relevant to families.

We believe the following are the key messages for the English lockdown:

• Parents are eligible to form a support bubble, if they have a child aged under one year (on 2 December 2020) or a child under 5 with a disability needing continuous care or if they are a single parent with a child under 18 (on 12 June 2020).
• Parents are eligible to form a childcare bubble, if they live in a household with anyone aged under 14. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.
• Everyone is allowed to leave their home to take exercise and may meet one person from another household. When meeting one other person for exercise outdoors, under 5s don't count - so a parent with their baby or young child/ren can meet another parent with one or more under-five children. This must be for exercise though, such as a walk, and 'open air recreation' is no longer permitted.
• Children may move between parents' households where parents do not live together but there is shared custody.
• Meeting a birth partner who does not live in the same household is one of the circumstances which means you can meet in a larger group.

We are also busy reviewing details of the national lockdown in Scotland and changes in Northern Ireland and Wales, and will update our information across all four nations as soon as we can.

Pregnant women remain in the clinically vulnerable group, advised to be especially careful to follow the guidance and minimise contact with others. Our antenatal courses remain online, ensuring a safe, social and interactive experience. 

The Prime Minister announced that 15-min rapid Covid-19 tests will be prioritised for maternity to ensure women don’t give birth alone. We’ll share more information on this when we know more.

We welcome the new guidance from NHS England, issued on 15 December, that confirms 'that a woman should have access to support from a person of her choosing at all stages on her maternity journey.' This makes the case for partners to be allowed to attend antenatal scans, labour and postnatal wards, because at the moment the restrictions are variable. This was campaigned for by birthrights. See the guidance from NHS England here.

Since the beginning of lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions, we’ve been campaigning for the needs of new and expectant parents to be recognised. Read about how we're delivering our services under the restrictions.

Walk & Talk groups

We're pleased to say that in England and Scotland, Walk & Talk groups can restart. However, as these are volunteer-led, we appreciate some volunteers may not be in a position to run the walks at the moment, or feel comfortable doing so. Please check your local NCT Facebook page to see if any walks are running near you. Or, if you'd like to set one up yourself, see here.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, Walk & Talk groups are unable to restart at the moment, but we will update you if this changes.

Contactless loan or hire service

Some local NCT groups provide a contactless loan or hire service of items that can help with your parenting choices. These may be cloth nappy libraries, baby-carrying or sling libraries, welly libraries or valley cushion loans.  You can ask at your local branch if they have this service.

Our Baby Bundles volunteers are also helping parents in difficult circumstances by providing essential items to parents in need. We're delighted to say that in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland both these services are able to continue. 

Virtual groups and activities 

Visit our local activities and meet-ups page and enter your postcode to search for your local NCT group. You’ll also be able to see all the activities and meet ups happening in your area every week.

Feeding support line

If you need information, support or just someone to talk to, give one of our trained breastfeeding counsellors a call on 0300 330 0700 (option 1). The line is open every day from 8am to midnight, including bank holidays.

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