Right now in these uncertain times, with a lack of groups going on, and everything up in the air and constantly changing, many expectant parents are signing up to social media ‘Covid-19’ groups to share their experiences and hear others’ experiences of giving birth during the covid-19 pandemic.
I, like them, unexpectedly found myself due to give birth in the middle of a pandemic, and thought that I would share my Covid-19 birth story with you all, and how my #lockdown baby came into the world during this crazy, never before seen in our lifetime, situation.
Pregnancy and Covid-19 were not really planned to fit; with many routine health services being cancelled due to the pandemic, nevertheless babies keep coming no matter what and need to be brought into this world safely. People across the whole country and indeed the world, are suffering each in their own way; with many feeling lonely and isolated or missing their families, weddings being cancelled and others struggling with job losses and financial difficulties. Thankfully some things can be rescheduled or done differently, such as keeping in touch with loved ones via technology, but some things simply cannot; your baby arriving into the world cannot simply be rescheduled or delayed!
It’s a worrying time for expectant parents in this pandemic and I especially feel for those first time parents who are going into this blindly and unable to fully experience the normal, expected process and, as a result, may be more anxious and worried at this time. No one expected that the magical moment of seeing their little one for the first time at their 12 week scan would be experienced alone by the mummy to be. I really feel for all those Daddies that are having to miss magical, once in a lifetime, moments that CANNOT be replaced, and for the mums having to attend all their antenatal appointments and scans on their own. Not to mention the worry about how the social distancing 2 metre rule can be maintained throughout childbirth!
This is my own personal birth story written from just my personal experience and recollections….
So, on the 23rd March 2020 lockdown was announced. There was a deadly virus that was being transmitted by humans, with some being asymptomatic carriers, that was targeting the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. People were to remain in their house unless undertaking their one hour exercise allowance or to visit the supermarket, and would have to adhere to a 2 metre distancing rule from anyone who lived outside of their household. There was much panic (and hoarding of toilet rolls!) with people trying to adapt to the constantly changing advice and government guidelines. Nevertheless, in the middle of this crazy World, was due to have a baby.
I was due to have our baby by induction (due to medical reasons) on Saturday the 9th May 2020. Thankfully, as this was my fourth child, I would like to think that I felt a bit more relaxed, having given birth three times before. However, I was still anxious for many reasons, mostly the unknown and the lingering Covid-19, of which anyone could be a carrier.
On the 9th May 2020 I called up at 7.30 in the morning to get my time to arrive at the maternity hospital. After a few rings, a midwife answered and I was given a 2pm time slot to arrive. I was reminded that it was only me to attend and my husband would only be allowed in later once I was ready to be transferred to the delivery suite. Due to Covid-19 there was also only one birthing partner allowed, as opposed to the usual allowance of 2. I found these regulations to be very upsetting but it is what it is, and I understood that safety was paramount.
After hanging up the phone I leisurely started getting organised and ready, packing all my necessary belongings by the front door ready to go and checking my list again for the last time. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining so we ate lunch as a family of 5 for the last time before I made my way to the maternity hospital.
My three girls were very excited, of course for the pending arrival of the baby, but also because they would be seeing my parents, who had been self-isolating in their house for just over two weeks in preparation for coming to our house to look after our children whilst we went to have the baby! At this point our children had not seen another person other than our household for just over 7 weeks. As you can imagine the excitement that nanny and grandad were coming to stay was an overwhelming happy experience for all!!
My husband and I set off from home for the drive to the maternity hospital, choosing to wear our face masks for added protection. As we parked in the car park and my husband helped me out with my bags, we gave each other a huge hug and kiss and I walked off by myself o the front door, which to me was the most upsetting thing. I rang the bell for antenatal ward (antibaccing my hands after) and was buzzed in to the ward. I was greeted by a lovely lady who was wearing PPE but still so welcoming (you very quickly get used to the PPE) and was led to my own room and told to get comfy. I found it reassuring that I was looked after by the same person, to minimise the risk of having contact with multiple people. Despite the facemasks, PPE, the additional hand washing and anti-bac I found that I almost forgot all about Covid-19. I was thinking about holding my new baby in my arms at this exciting time.
I took my book with me as thought I would be waiting a while. I am currently reading a book about the Bankes family and Corfe castle, as a mum to three already I never find I have enough time to read, so I thought I would make the most of the opportunity. Meanwhile my husband was sitting in the car in the car park waiting until he was allowed in (he had snacks and drinks) but I got a text to say he needed a wee so was going to nip home!!!! There were lots of other birthing partners sitting in their cars too waiting to be allowed to come in when they were called – so Max did not feel like he was the only one!
After waiting a while, and having all the normal checks done, I was told the plan.
‘Right we are going to check how dilated you are, do a stretch and sweep and then at some point you can go to delivery suite.’
My first question….. ‘when can my husband come!!!!!’
I was told that Max would be allowed to come in once I went to delivery suite but I was not really sure on the time scales at this point, it depended on so many factors, such as space on delivery suite, how many cm’s dilated I was and if any emergencies came in. I kept myself busy reading, relaxing and keeping everyone updated on the all-important family WhatsApp group.
The midwife came back to proceed with the plan, and I was pleased to know that I was just over a cm dilated, so the midwife was also able to do a stretch and sweep there and then. It was fine, just an odd sensation but not uncomfortable. Whilst having the stretch and sweep done the midwife looking after me laughed and said ‘The baby just grabbed my finger’. I laughed and said ‘Ooo no not another hand over the head in delivery like my last labour!’
The stretch and sweep then started me off having little on/off contractions. Shortly after this, my mucus plug came away whilst I was in the toilet.
We had chosen not to find out the sex of of the baby beforehand, and as I was having another surprise the midwife hazarded a guess that I was going to be having another girl, to which I laughed that I also had a feeling the baby would be another girl.
I was then left to relax again and read my book for a little while. Whilst alone in the room I had a break from wearing my mask, just putting it on whenever the midwife came back in. I had a little lunch box with me and water in case I was peckish, as you do not know how long you will be waiting for.
Eventually, my midwife came back in to tell me that the delivery room was just having a clean and that they had a midwife allocated for me who be up to get me as soon as the room was ready. Yay I text Max to tell him the good news!
A little while later, I think about 5.30pm, the delivery suite midwife came up to get me and took me down to the room in which I would be bringing our new baby into the world. Once in the room I text my husband to come down. This was exciting and I could not wait to see him He walked in with the baby bag and I gave him a big hug, it had only been a few hours, but I was incredibly happy to see him.
I had the usual checks and was on the monitor for a little bit to check the baby’s heartbeat. This was also picking up little contractions. I had my medicines that I needed during labour (due to medical reasons) and then had my waters broken. This was not painful for me just more uncomfortable and I felt that my dignity had flown out the window – but hey ho it was about to get a whole lot worse!!
after the midwife broke my waters around 7pm, I could feel a gush of water come out and every time I moved a bit more came out – it was a very odd feeling. I laid on the bed with a blanket over me for a little while whilst some of my waters came out. After a short while, when I was able to stand up, more water kept coming out - thank god for those big maternity pads! My midwife then finished her shift and handed me over to the midwife who would be helping and supporting me and Max deliver our new little bundle into the World!
I moved on to the bouncy ball, but was annoyed to find I’d left my playing cards at home – I find these useful in labour as they keep me focused and help me to cope with the contractions better, as I am preoccupied. Luckily, as I had my laptop with me, Max and I were able to play solitaire on the laptop instead. This kept me going, and focused my mind on something other than the contractions as they started coming in thicker and faster - about every two and a half minutes. The midwife offered me some gas and air, but I said I did not want to give into gas and air too early if I was coping, as I wanted to continue to play cards!! I asked Max to start rubbing my lower back with my essential oils rollers that I had brought along in my maternity bag. These felt lovely on my back and as soon as I started to feel a contraction coming along I would ask Max to rub my back with my essential oils. They also smelt amazing which was a nice distraction.
Within about half an hour I was on the gas and air, contractions coming every two minutes and I was reaching for the gas and air as soon as I felt a contraction starting. I was less able to play cards now even though I did give it a bloody good go but reluctantly I finally put the laptop away!
Thinking I needed a wee, I stood up off the ball, but found when I tried to step that physically I could not - my pelvis was just not coordinating with my mind and I felt very heavy, with a huge amount of pressure in my pelvis area. Max and the lovely midwife took a side each and started to guide me to the toilet. As I got nearer to the toilet I could feel a contraction coming – I started to panic as I wanted to be back with the gas and air and breathing through it. I could not get back to the bed quick enough. At this point the midwife advised that perhaps it was time to get on the bed and to check how far along I was. Turns out I was having trouble to walk as the baby was nearly ready to come out!!!!!!
I was relying on the gas and air and my breathing, I could hear my husband saying to me with every contraction ‘Sebrina I am so proud of you, you’re doing so well’. I didn’t speak and I didn’t respond to him as I was focusing on staring at a point on the ceiling and breathing in and out through each contraction with the gas and air. But his reassuring voice got me through. It was so reassuring to hear and knowing he was there next to me kept me going.
The midwife checked me and thank God I was nearly ready to push. The midwife encouraged me to push if I felt like pushing, saying it would not be long and my baby would be here. I could not believe it! Surely I was not that close was I? These words from the midwife gave me a sudden surge of excitement that I was so close and it was nearly over. I could not wait to have our baby safely in our arms, and was excited to find out if it was a boy or a girl? The midwife said “I think this baby is coming this side of midnight’, which gave me a boost and surge of positive strength to reach the finish line. Despite not having a clue what the time was, all these reassuring comments in the background gave the me that final bit of determination to give a few more pushes to get the baby out.
A contraction or so later I started to push and I could feel the baby’s head coming out, I continued to focus on breathing in the gas and air and did not want to give that up. I heard Max saying, “I love you Sebrina and I’m so proud of you” and the midwife encouraged me along with the words that…. “this could be one of your last contractions”. I couldn’t believe my baby was this close – I was so in tune with focusing and listening to the midwife to get me through and I had absolute trust in the midwife and my husband when they were telling me ‘We can see the baby’, ‘The baby’s head’s out’ ‘One more contraction, you can do it’ and then suddenly, after that, I had a beautiful baby on my chest. I could not believe it! I remember thinking straight away that thank God it was over and my baby was safely here but also that it had not been that bad and what had I been so worried about!
I had my baby, safe and sound in my arms, with Max next to me, and we were both just staring at our new precious baby. The midwife said ‘Do you know what you have got?’ and I realised that we did not, so I looked down and I could not believe it, it was a boy! I think we were both in shock, as being so used to girls, we’d just sort of assumed that we were having another girl. We were happy to have a boy or girl, as long as they were healthy, but to have a boy was so surreal and perfect - a blue to go with our three pink’s. We stared at him for ages, having skin to skin contact with him, and I had the joyful experience of latching him on for his first breastfeed. I then had the one thing that women always you remember after giving birth, the tea and toast – yummy!
Darwin was born at 23:16pm on the 9th May 2020 weighing in at 7lb 13oz. He is perfect!
I had the most wonderful birth and I believe that it was the best one yet out of my four deliveries, despite happening during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our baby came into the world and it was perfect, with just a bit more PPE than normal and some social distancing – certainly a story to tell him on his 18th birthday!
One impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had on our time and experience at the maternity hospital was that, disappointingly, we were only able to have until 2am together, with Max having to leave and to go home two and three quarter hours after our little boy’s arrival into the world, with me going to the ward with our baby alone. We were also not allowed any visitors, but we understood
that it was a case of safety first. From the moment Max left until the moment we were discharged at 3.30pm from the maternity hospital, I could not wait to be reunited back home with my family. Max arrived in the car with the newborn car seat and we set off for home, and for those precious moments, driving in the car on our short journey home with just the two of us and our brand new addition to the family, not a thought was given to Covid-19.
With a special thank you to Alice