Welcome to our blog post, I met the lovely Paula in my Facebook group (Babies in Central Scotland) which I run to help mums-to-be and new mums cope with pregnancy and motherhood during this pandemic and current isolation... We have so many worried pregnant and new mums in the group that Claire agreed to share her experience of pregnancy, Labour and being a new mum during this current Pandemic to provide a little reassurance and support to other ladies... Thanks so much Paula for sharing your story about her labour experience at Forth Valley Hospital, Larbert, Falkirk, Scotland...
Early on in the corona virus outbreak I wasn’t too concerned- it still felt like one of those things that was hyped up but would turn out not to affect me. I think the severity of the situation really hit me when pregnant women were placed in the ‘at risk’ category. I was 34 weeks pregnant, had just finished up work and was looking forward to spending the last few weeks with my 2 year old before her sister came along. I felt cheated out of that time- instead of days out we had to stay at home.
Once we settled into some sort of routine I accepted it- I knew that these precautions were put in place to protect me and my unborn baby.
1 week into lock down my partner was sent home from work and my mindset changed- having him there gave me support and made the long days easier.
I’m hindsight it was a special time that we got to spend as a family of 3 before baby came along.
At 36 weeks I had a growth scan and it was decided I would be induced at 38 weeks. I was expecting this as I had gestational diabetes in my previous pregnancy and this baby had been measuring big from the start.
The consultant was great at finding out information with regards to my partner supporting me in ward 8 and delivery ward. At my 36 week scan and consultant appointment (which my partner was not allowed to attend) I was informed that I would be allowed one birthing partner who would be able to stay with me in ward 8 during my induction process. However, things moved quickly in those two weeks and when my induction date came round, there were to be no birthing partners allowed in ward 8 and Instead only when you were transferred to labour ward would they be allowed in. To be honest, I was expecting the change as restrictions had been tightening in hospitals and because I had mentally prepared myself for it, i wasn’t too phased by the situation.
It’s funny, you even get used to everyone in the hospital wearing PPE- it’s became the new norm.
The induction process was generally more lengthy compared to my first baby. 24 hours in a ward that you can’t leave was a bit tedious but what I was pleasantly surprised with was the comradery between myself and the other woman in the ward, who were all in the same boat.
With my first baby, all curtains were usually drawn and you didn’t really communicate with the other woman, but without birthing partners there to keep you company and having the exceptional circumstances to bond over, it was a really lovely experience to have with those other ladies.
Prepare! Think ahead with regards to you hospital bag etc. Pack extra things such as clothes, toiletries and snacks. Partners won’t be allowed in when you are on ward but they are allowed to drop stuff off at the door for you if you are desperate.
Try and embrace the situation- the people around you and the staff looking after you are all in the same position as you. Speak to them, offer support and learn from them.
I found it was a mindset you needed to change- if you think positive and accept the position you are in, it makes it’s an easier process in the long run.
My partner Rusty was with me during labour. I feel, and I’m sure he agrees, that he was treated very well by everyone on the ward. The midwives communicated well with him when I was concentrating on things in hand, he was offered food and drinks when I was, and was allowed to stay in the labour ward as long as I was. The experience my partner had wasn’t all that different from what it would have been if he was supporting me out with the pandemic.
My partner found it all a bit surreal. He felt a bit helpless being at home and not being able to support me whilst I was on ward 8. When he did get to come into delivery he felt welcomed, involved in the experience and overall was very impressed with the professionalism of the staff in difficult times.
With this being my second baby, I have the experience with my first daughter to compare too, and on a whole not much is different. They seemed eager to discharge from ward 8- which is understandable. I do believe they wouldn’t push someone to go home if they weren’t ready.
The staff in ward 8 ask that whoever is picking you up from the hospital hands your car seat into the ward and then waits for you at the door. Someone from the ward will then help you with your bags and car seat.
At home, use of PPE is an obvious difference when the midwife and health visitor has came to the house. Other than that, I had a visit from the midwife on day 2, 4 and 8 and the health visitor came on day 10 as normal.(Note- even though I gave birth at FVRH I am under Fife for my midwife/ HV care)
On a personal note, it’s been quite difficult not having visitors or being able to show our new arrival off. Thank goodness for social media and video calls. I have to keep reminding myself that this is not forever- we will all be together soon and these days will be a distant memory.
It is nice having my partner at home for a bit longer than his statutory paternity leave so I look at that as a positive and a really nice time that the four of us can share before life goes back to some sort of normality again.
I would just like to reassure anyone who is due to give birth at FVRH that the corona virus won’t effect the level of care an professionalism you receive from all staff members. If you are in ward 8, try to remember that everyone is in the same position as you- speak to each other, share stories and offer support. We are all in this together.
I hope reading Paula's story about pregnancy and labour during lock-down helps to provide reassurance for all the nervous mummies and daddies to be out there. Big thanks again to Paula, Rusty and Baby Stella and big sister Fern for sharing their experience with us...
Love and Hugs