New footage of The Duchess of Cambridge video chatting with midwives, health visitors, parents, and sector experts was released by Kensington Palace on Saturday evening to coincide with Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.
“This is definitely a first, I think,” Kate laughed when she signed on to chat with new parents. The couple, Rebecca and John, had just welcomed a baby boy at Kingston Hospital in the south of London.
Rebecca told the Daily Mail, “’Having a surprise conversation with the Duchess of Cambridge after two hours’ sleep was particularly surreal.
“The Duchess asked us about having a baby at such an unusual time, and our experience on the maternity ward was that all the midwives made it as normal as possible – apart from the masks!”
Kensington Palace released a statement saying that Her Royal Highness has been meeting with frontline staff for the past two weeks to talk “about an increase in maternal anxiety and isolation as a result of the pandemic, with midwives, doctors, health visitors and clinicians urging mothers and families to speak up and ask for help when they need it.”
“What are the main concerns that mothers and potential mothers feel?” the Duchess asked.
“The main issues that the women are having at the moment are really around coming into a hospital and worried about catching COVID-19, but also about the isolation after the baby’s born, they have to self-isolate, so they’re having limited support from their other family members,” a frontline worker told her.
Kate asked if they’re able to detect a shift in mothers’ emotional and mental well-being during the pandemic, and the frontline worker tells her there’s much more anxiety now than before.
In the next video, the Duchess spoke with two midwives at Kingston Hospital—where, last fall, she spent two weeks on the maternity ward with midwives and doctors and nurses to shadow them—and asked about how they’re coping during the pandemic.
“How are you all doing as well, because obviously there’s worries and stresses, and anxiety out there for families, but you’re still working…” she questioned.
“There’s a worry, but we’re following the guidelines, and we are wearing our masks. Personally, I feel secure,” one of the midwives explained.
“I think women are surprised that our services are still available,” the other midwife said.
“Even with what’s going on, we’re still here to support you, we’re still here to listen to you, we’re still here to make sure we provide you with the best care for your pregnancy, for your baby and support your family.”
The Duchess then began chatting with another frontline worker who was wearing a face mask. She told Kate that she was smiling, “Can’t you tell?” Kate joked, “With your eyes, yes I can!”
In the final video in the series, Kate is seen hosting a roundtable discussion on maternal mental health with experts including the President of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer for England, and the Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.
“Do you see a shift in things that are coming to the fore that perhaps hadn’t been so present before?” she asked. “Do you see the impact of the pandemic?”
“I think the resounding feedback has been that they’re nervous or embarrassed to reach out for health support,” one expert said.
“We need to do more to get the message out that mental health is important, and if you need help, get help. We’re here to help,” another expert stated, to show that maternal services are still operational during the pandemic and that they’re capable of supporting mental health services.
The Duchess of Cambridge said: “As organisations, you’re playing such a vital role giving key information. You’re hugely trusted by the public, and therefore, the information you provide is a lifeline to a lot of people.”
The full video of Kate’s discussions can be viewed here.
The UKs Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week runs 4-10 May.