Updated: Jun 1
Update: As it happens, giving birth in the middle of a pandemic was nowhere near as bad as I thought it might be. Check out my c-section UK article on how everything went, and don't miss my ultimate hospital bag checklist so you have everything you need for little'uns arrival.
Finding out I was pregnant in July last year, I couldn't have been happier. The madness of the world and the coronavirus pandemic seemed to have settled, and I felt weirdly like we'd timed this pregnancy just right. Surely in another eight months all of this virus stuff would be long gone, right? Jeez, how wrong was I.
As this pandemic and talk of new variants took hold for the second wave, I felt really scared. Even more so than the first time around because of the little life now growing inside me. For a while my anxiety was through the roof, which lead to a lot of heated discussions in this household about where we should go and who we should see as and when restrictions were put into place. I often wish I could live my life in the 'what will be, will be' mindset Eamo does, but I can't, and it's often a source of frustration between the two of us.
The thought of him coming down with covid when I go into labour, and therefore not able to be there is still a constant worry. And I was also hugely distressed a while back at hearing talk of partners not being able to be present at the birth due to covid restrictions. Like much of the pregnant population, I'm sure, the thought of giving birth alone is terrifying. That said, I have to say Eamo's attempt to lighten the situation by saying 'I didn't do much the first time around' did make me chuckle somewhat.
I should note, at the time of writing this post, the NHS website states: 'You'll be able to have a birth partner during labour and birth if they do not symptoms of coronavirus."
Since the second lockdown came into force, I've been really strict about the amount of news I watch (basically none) and haven't dared Googling pregnancy and covid-19 for fear of what information I might find. I've ignored anyone sharing news stories about pregnant women and covid on social media, (because you know they're not going to be good|). That actually leads me to wonder why people feel the need to share stuff like that, like they don't think pregnant woman are already 100% on edge/aware/being unbelievably careful as it is?!
Instead I've relied almost entirely on information directly from my midwife and the maternity page of my local hospital, which I know they are updating regularly. However the rate at which information and restrictions change is still something I find difficult when it comes to managing my anxiety.
As previously mentioned, if there's one thing I've learnt about the news and social media since this pandemic began, it's that neither seem to be big on sharing happy news. You'll hear all about the ever-rising death counts, but very little in the way of the good things that are happening too. So I wanted to take this opportunity to share a couple of my friends pregnancy and birth stories with you.
Don't get me wrong, these are not an attempt to downplay any issues and anxieties pregnant women are facing right now. All I know is right now, hearing other women's positive experiences is really working wonders at helping me manage my thoughts.
The wonderful women mentioned below gave birth in a local birthing centre and hospital during the peak of this second wave. It's worth bearing in mind experiences and restrictions may be different depending on where you are in the country, plus depending on what happens in the coming weeks, the restrictions these guys experienced may well have changed, again. But I do hope these real-life accounts from new mums go some way, as they have me, to provide a little bit of reassurance and comfort should you need it right now.
I want to say a huge thank you to Rebecca and Vicky for sharing these stories with me, you guys have done wonders for not only managing my expectations, but helping me to be more prepared and feel way more positive for when the time comes that this little lady decides to arrive.
Rebecca gave birth to her second son Ruairidh at a local birthing centre on 23 Jan this year. Mum and baby were transferred to hospital shortly after birth following some feeding issues:
"I had such a positive experience at both the birthing centre and hospital. Even in the world of covid it was a very supportive atmosphere. My partner, Craig, was allowed in for the labour and birth, and apart from him having to keep his mask on during it all, there was really no difference. Having spent three days in hospital I was so impressed by the caring nature of every single midwife that I came across. They were amazing.
"My friend was on call in case Craig had any symptoms and couldn't come with me. We were also really careful beforehand and didn’t really go anywhere except to do shopping. When you arrive at hospital you will have to go in on your own to be assessed, and once they are happy that you’re in active labour then your partner will be able to come in. Craig was asked about covid symptoms and his details were taken for track and trace, but he didn't have his temperature checked.
"I was anxious about labour and birth, and yet it really was absolutely fine. I felt very safe in the birthing centre and hospital. Also, the best time to get a covid test is when you’re in active labour... the contractions are so full on that you don’t notice having the swab shoved up your nose lol."
Vicky gave birth to her third baby girl Montana at the local hospital on 3rd December 2020:
"We found out I was pregnant in April 2020, during the first lockdown. My partner (Shaun) was unable to attend the 12 week scan, and after suffering two missed miscarriages it made me very anxious. Luckily everything was ok this time but he wasn't allowed to attend any of our scans or appointments throughout the pregnancy.
"During the last four weeks of my pregnancy I became terrified of either Shaun or I contracting COVID and didn't leave the house except for appointments. I didn't want to have it myself and suffer breathing difficulties or not be able to give birth naturally. I was also scared of giving birth alone!
"We ended up being induced a week early for various reasons. We had a little room to ourselves and weren't allowed to leave the room but could call the midwife of we needed anything. The visiting hours were 11-5 so Shaun had to leave at 5 whilst I waited to be taken down to the delivery suite.
"They called us down at midnight so Shaun came back to the hospital and met me in our delivery room. We were put at ease by everyone we met and our midwife was lovely, they wore PPE but neither me or Shaun had to. The rest of the birth and time at the hospital felt normal and not much else was impacted by the virus for us. It's a different time to give birth at the moment but it's not at all that bad."
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