In a morale-boosting virtual return to royal duties the Duchess of Cambridge spoke with midwives, health visitors, parents and leading sector experts about the challenges and impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on new and expectant mothers and their families. Catherine offered a heartfelt plea to those who needed help during the pandemic to reach out and not feel guilty for doing so.
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Addressing the sector experts, the Duchess insisted those struggling should not feel guilty about asking for help.
She said: “Parents do need to reach out to those who can support them.
“Particularly those who can provide a knowledgeable resource as well, which is what all of you are doing.
“But it is so right. We heard it from all of the frontline workers. They feel guilty for doing it, which is extraordinary to hear.”
Kate went on to reiterate her call for those in need to reach out and ask for help when they needed it, especially during this crisis.
She said: “But obviously with new mums and families and parents they do not want to feel they are overburdening but it is important to reach out for access and help when you do need it.”
The Duchess also spoke to a new mother and father at their bedside during a video call to midwives she worked alongside last year.
Rebecca Attwood and John Gill were delighted to be honoured with the virtual presence of the Duchess as she chatted to them with their baby Max nearby.
The royal was amazed when she learned the tot had been born just the night before.
She said: “My goodness, you must be exhausted.”
The April 22 video call was made to staff at the maternity unit of Kingston Hospital in south-west London, where Catherine spent two days on a work placement last November.
When the Duchess, who is mother to six-year-old Prince George, Princess Charlotte, who celebrated her fifth birthday on Saturday, and two-year-old Prince Louis, began chatting with the parents of baby Max, she said: “Well firstly, huge congratulations. Is it a little boy or a little girl?”
“It’s a little boy,” Ms Attwood told her, as she sat up in her hospital bed with her newborn son alongside her in a cot.
Given a closer look at little Max, the Duchess cooed: “He’s so sweet. Ah, congratulations. When did you have him?
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Some mothers at the ward have been suffering anxiety amid fears about catching coronavirus, midwives told the Duchess.
Jennifer Tshibamba, an antenatal midwife who is part of a team offering ultrasound scans and blood tests for genetic conditions, said wearing masks was an added challenge when giving parents difficult news.
She said: “It’s the aspect of having that face-to-face contact and being at a distance and having your mask on and not seeing someone’s facial expressions and knowing that she might be hesitating to say something.”
A total of three pairs of midwives took part in the chat. To maintain social distancing they took it in turns to join the call while another was filmed putting on personal protective equipment before taking the laptop in to introduce the Duchess to baby Max and his parents.