Lockdown mum starts stay and play group in Kirton to help others struggling
- Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN
A Suffolk mum who gave birth to her daughter during lockdown has set up a new stay and play group to help mums struggling with isolation.
Gemma Brunning, 30, previously worked as a primary school teacher and is "excited" to meet new people at her Holly Blossom Explorer sessions in Kirton - which are named after her little girl, who was born in January this year.
She said: "When I was expecting my daughter I was looking for local groups to see what was out there.
"As a new mum, especially during lockdown, I wanted to meet other mums.
"There wasn't really much around - one of my husband's friends runs a stay and play group near Coventry and I had a chat with her and she said 'Why don't you give it a go'."
Mrs Brunning, of Walton, Felixstowe, believes a support network for mums, dads, grandparents and carers is crucial, particularly after such a challenging time.
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Speaking about her own experience of being pregnant in a pandemic she said: "I went back to work in September to teach, before I had Holly, and that was absolutely awful. It was very, very scary just being around the children - even though it is something I absolutely love.
"I took maternity leave early in November so I could be at home, because I was then 28 weeks pregnant and we were very cautious.
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"My husband wasn't allowed in for any of the checks or anything, he was allowed in during the birth. Luckily we had to stay in the delivery suite for 24 hours afterwards because I wasn't very well so he was with me.
"Then when I went down to the ward he wasn't allowed in at all and I had to be on my own with her."
She continued: "I had a blood transfusion on my own whilst looking after her which was really hard - I was so glad to come home."
She added: "The midwives at Ipswich hospital were absolutely incredible, the staff there were amazing and I can't fault them in anyway."
The Holly Blossom Explorer sessions have something for all ages, from sensory and messy play for babies - to a craft activity to take home for pre-school aged children.
This week Mrs Brunning will host three taster sessions for local families and over the summer she has also organised messy play and soft play for children to enjoy.
If you run a stay and play group, or are organising an event for children, please share details in the Mumlife Suffolk Facebook group.