A Facebook group launched in March 2020 to connect pregnant women and new mums has presented a commemorative book of babies born at Bedford Hospital in 2020 to the staff at Cygnet Wing, as a way of expressing their gratitude for the hard work of the midwives, doctors and other NHS workers who helped to deliver babies during the pandemic.
The 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 says: “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: other activities like pregnancy yoga and aquanatal classes were cancelled, and I had been really looking forward to making friends. I had hoped that maybe 20 people might join the group and 4 or 5 might be interested in meeting up outside of lockdown.” The group now has over two thousand members and hosted regular meet-ups for new mums and pregnant women between lockdowns, allowing members to make new friends and access support from each other.
The idea for the book came from Emily Davy, an Obstetrics and Gynaecology Doctor at Bedford Hospital who also joined the group whilst pregnant in 2020. Lottie felt that the book was an excellent way to thank the staff at the hospital and helped Emily to publicise the book in the group. Lottie said: “I had a wonderful experience at Bedford Hospital: the staff were absolutely brilliant and made me feel very comfortable throughout the whole time I was there. Supporting birthing people must be a difficult job at the best of times: it must be even harder during a global pandemic! 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.”
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. Amy, who gave birth to her son Nolan in 2020 at Bedford Hospital 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.”
Upon 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 and thanks, 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”.