A Facebook support group aimed at bringing isolated new mums together during the pandemic lockdowns has come up with a unique way to thank Bedford Hospital’s Cygnet Wing staff for their support.
The group members put together a commemorative book of babies born at Bedford Hospital as a way of expressing their gratitude for the hard work of the midwives, doctors, and other NHS workers.
The Facebook group was set up in March 2020 by Lottie Bagnall who gave birth to her daughter Heidi at the Cygnet Wing in July 2020.
Lottie said: “I wanted to do something to connect new mums and pregnant women at a time where face-to-face support was impossible.
“All of our antenatal classes had been moved online and other activities like pregnancy yoga and aqua-natal classes were cancelled, and I had looked forward to making friends.
“I had hoped that maybe 20 people might join the group and four or five might be interested in meeting up outside of lockdown.”
However, the group gathered momentum and attracted over 2,000 members. They hosted regular meet-ups for new mums and pregnant women between lockdowns and the group became a lifeline, allowing members to make new friends and support each other.
The idea for the book came from group member Emily Davy, an Obstetrics and Gynaecology doctor at Bedford Hospital. Lottie felt it was an excellent way to thank the staff and shared the idea on the Facebook group.
“I loved the idea of Emily’s book, and the fact that so many women wanted to include their babies and birth stories in the book is testament to the hard work of the Cygnet Wing staff,” said Lottie.
On Thursday 16 June 2022, the book was presented to the Cygnet Wing staff by Amy Nightingale, one of the first members to join the support group.
She said: “I felt so lucky to be able to revisit one of the most important days of my life with the people who made it special despite the restrictions. What will really stay with me is just how much the book means to them all and the memories it contains.”
After receiving the book Tara Pauley, Head of Midwifery at Bedford Hospital, said: “Our staff were extremely moved by the time taken from all of these families that gave birth in 2020 to compile their photos, stories.
“This is such a powerful collection of positivity during what has been a challenging time for so many. We plan to have the book on a display unit where we can change the pages, as a reminder of that gratitude and appreciated difference our teams have made.”