Has Covid-19 killed mum networking and support groups? On episode two of Baby On The Brain, fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger Desreen and founder of Black Ballad Tobi Oredein discuss the realities of motherhood in a pandemic.
Picture the scene: you’re pregnant, it’s your first baby and the world is completely locked down because there’s a virus sweeping the globe. Any thoughts you had about how life might look when you have your first baby have gone completely out the window, and you’re stuck inside using Zoom to speak to professionals about swaddling, breastfeeding and the importance of understanding the warning signs of post-natal depression.
No, this isn’t the script for a Hollywood movie; it’s the reality for thousands of pregnant women in the UK right now. So in this week’s episode of Stylist’s new podcast, Baby On The Brain, executive editor Fliss Thistlethwaite – joined by fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger Desreen as her co-host and media entrepreneur and founder of Black Ballad Tobi Oredein as their guest – tackle the topic head on.
The kick-off question: has Covid-19 killed mum networking?
“I don’t want to say it’s killed mum networking, it’s changed it,” Oredein starts. “I was exactly the same as you, I had never changed a nappy before whereas my husband has two younger siblings… so he’s changed a nappy.
“My saving grace in the first few months of having my daughter was a colleague in journalism… we found out we were both pregnant. And she set up a WhatsApp group.
“That group was such a lifeline for me because everyone was like, ‘first time mum, no judgement: how’s your baby sleeping?’”
Oredein adds that, actually, it wasn’t just about whether her baby was sleeping through the night, or does this poo look normal? It was a place of sanity and relief for her.
“Sometimes mum networking revolves around the baby but we were having conversations about anything and it was really good, especially in the pandemic when we couldn’t go out,” she says. “The first lockdown was particularly harsh, when we couldn’t go out, no-one knew how to navigate that.”
She adds: “My husband’s best friend’s wife was six weeks behind me in her pregnancy. Rebecca is my best mum friend. We talk about anything and everything. And the best thing is that we will ask each other: how are you doing?
“We’ve both had moments where we say to each other, ‘I just don’t know if I can do it,’ and having someone you can be completely vulnerable with… you only need one mum friend in my opinion. Having her and being able to WhatsApp, call, FaceTime, has been such a fundamental part in my happiness of being a mum actually.”
Of course, not every woman is lucky enough to be friends with women going through pregnancy at the same time as them. But never fear, the trio also discuss how to network in this strange digital-only world and find your support group.
Oredein shares four key apps she used last year, with all the details below.
Track your baby’s development and save those special moments forever with Phillip’s Baby+ app. Oredein says: “It has a lot of information about what to expect, and during lockdown it helped me answer some of the questions.”
What To Expect
By providing information like your due date, you’ll receive personalised content, the latest health information and access to a tight-knit community of other parents and parents-to-be like you.
Oredein explains: “This actually has a forum, so you can get so specific.
“I joined a group for Black mums, I joined a group for mums giving birth in April… The good thing about forums is that, because you can’t see anyone and people are so far away from you, it feels a bit easier to ask a question.”
Tinto’s mission is to nurture women through modern motherhood. To support each other through meaningful connection and proactive, personalised guidance.
Oredein adds: “They are really trying to do a lot of work to try and bring mums together.”
Mums And Tea (Communi-Tea app)
Mums and Tea Communi-Tea is a one stop shop looking to connect UK mums online while empowering each member of the community to be their best self in all the different areas of womanhood and motherhood.
Oredein says: “They’re doing fantastic work. They’ve literally just launched their app, it’s called Communi-Tea. Their whole thing used to be meet-ups, mums having tea with their babies and other mums, but because lockdown has stopped that they’ve been working to launch this app. It’s about finding one mummy friend online.”
Been thinking about your fertility? Or perhaps you’re pregnant and worried about what happens next in your career? Stylist’s new franchise, Baby On The Brain, is here to answer all your motherhood questions.
This new digital space will be filled with discussions from different women airing their thoughts on motherhood, or the considerations around motherhood. But you won’t find information about the practicalities of sleep or feeding on Baby on the Brain. And this series is not about birth, either. This space is all about you, as women.