My first baby, a little girl, was born in May 2020. Together we have navigated pregnancy, birth and the first year (almost), all under lockdown....
What was the hardest part being pregnant in the pandemic?
This time a year ago, when the world went into lockdown, I was 8 months pregnant. Like many, I struggled going into a complete unknown. These days we have access to so much information, and suddenly there were no answers. With each daily news report I became more and more anxious about giving birth. Would I have to give birth alone? What if one of us got Covid? What if there were complications?
Alongside this, a scan at 37 weeks indicated that I had polyhydramnios and I was diagnosed with late onset gestational diabetes. I’d attended this scan by myself, and rather than ask questions as to how this would potentially impact my birth, I went into panic mode.
I was overwhelmed with emotion having seen new mothers leave the maternity ward by themselves with their tiny baby's - their family on the outside. I’d watched the excitement from siblings who were likely meeting their brothers or sisters for the first time, having not been able to visit them inside the hospital. Fathers watching with love, as they'd perhaps only been able to spend one hour with their new arrival before they were told to leave. I wondered how many other mums were feeling like this... this thought made me feel sad and scared.
Tell us about your birth experience...
I was given an induction date at 38 weeks. This date came as a relief. It was something planned and somewhat controlled in the midst of chaos!
I was always nervous ahead of any visit to the doctors/hospital during the pandemic, however the second I stepped into Kingston Hospital to start the birthing process I felt at ease. It was the one place where I was able to forget about what was going on outside and focus on giving birth. I was in awe of all of the staff who worked in the maternity ward who made my my experience feel so calm and normal.
I had a birth plan in mind and labour certainly wasn't that. But that doesn't matter as my daughter was born a healthy 7lb and we were able to leave the hospital the following morning. My husband had been by my side throughout (albeit leaving at night). I am so grateful for this.
Were there any silver linings?
My husband was working from home for my entire maternity leave. He’s been able to build a bond with our daughter, and experience many of her early milestones. It has made us realise how much he would have missed if he’d have gone back to the office after only two weeks with us!
What would your advice be for those giving birth in 2021?
I think a lot has been learnt about maternity care and support for new mums and their families during the pandemic. There is a lot of support out there, sometimes finding it is difficult but it's getting easier. I hadn't used social media for years until about six months ago, and for me it has been one of the greatest tools during the pandemic, connecting me to so many people! Both Instagram and Facebook are full of great accounts, and many of these are area specific so you can find support and meet others locally.
What are you most looking forward to once lockdown has been lifted?
I can't wait to introduce my daughter to family and friends again, she has changed so much since we last saw them! I haven't seen my mum in six months which is also very strange. And playdates... we've never had a proper playdate!
It takes a village... and if this virus has shown us anything it is that! To all of those locally who have been part of this journey, thank you for your support.