How was having a baby in a COVID-19 lockdown?
As I write this I have my 3-day old baby boy in my arms, and all the worry and panic before the birth seems to be a distant memory, but I will do my best to explain how it is from both my side (male) and my lovely wife’s side.
When we went into lockdown, my wife was distraught. The thought of possibly not being able to have me and my humour by her side made her feel terrible, and she was in a bit of a mess. I reassure her that it will be ok and all will be well.
We had a planned C-section booked for 15th April, and after the last appointment with the midwife, Jane was feeling a lot happier. However, the uncertainty of what to expect was still playing on her mind.
I am not going even to pretend that this pregnancy was easy on me as the husband. Jane was different, hard work to keep happy and second guess, and pretty much anything I said was wrong and would upset her.
Jane was devastated at the thought of not having her mum here after the birth due to lockdown. After a lot of discussions, we worked out that it was going to be impossible to do this without the help of the mother in law. So we all went into proper lockdown, and I spoke to a friend of ours who has also been super careful for the last four weeks so that if we go into labour early we can call her to come and sit with our 2-year-old Madeleine until the mother in law came and she agreed.
Well, at 05:10 on Monday 13th April I was woken up by a lot of swearing and cursing, and yes you guessed it, Jane’s waters had broken, and after a quick phone call to the hospital, we were told to come in to get ready for the C-section.
I phoned our friend who whizzed round to sit in our lounge and wait for Maddie to wake up and a quick call to Jane’s mum to come down from Bedford was made, and Jane and I headed off to the hospital.
The hospital told us to drop Jane off at the labour ward, and I was to wait in the car until they called me.
So I did precisely that, waited in the car wondering how long I’m going to sit here, and an hour or so later I had a phone call and was asked to go up.
I went up to the labour ward and got dressed in some gowns that were too small, a bandanna, and some wellies. I looked like I was off to the slaughterhouse.
The staff in the operating room were all friendly, and as ever I had them in stitches (literally) with my inappropriate humour, and very quickly, the surgeons revealed to us our new baby boy.
Once he was out, I had the pleasure of cutting the umbilical cord. I also had the pleasure of cuddles while the surgeons worked on stitching Jane back together.
We were soon back on the labour ward, where we got to hold him properly, and Jane started breastfeeding him for the first time.
At this point, we did not know what was going to happen. The midwife explained that they wanted to keep us on the labour ward for as long as possible so that I could spend as much time with the new baby. Staying in the labour ward meant I could spend more time with our new baby before Jane had to go to the postnatal ward. I was not allowed in the postnatal ward as usual as the visiting times have been reduced to just 1 hour for the father only.
So What Was It Like Giving Birth In A Pandemic?
I decided to ask some questions about COVID-19 and the effects of it on the maternity ward staff.
I asked how safe they felt in the hospital and the staff explained that they think that the maternity ward was probably a good safe place to be as the people coming in had been self-isolating since 28 weeks.
The maternity ward staff said they did not like having to wear the PPE and the face masks were particularly annoying as they rely on using facial expressions to put mums and mums-to-be at ease. To combat this, the staff were explaining every step of the way through the process, which made Jane feel as comfortable as can be.
Visitors were only allowed into the postnatal ward for 1 hour a day, and although that was hard on the fathers, the staff said that they were enjoying spending more time with the newborn babies.
Jane was quite upset with me not being able to come onto the ward, but there was nothing we could do about it so we just rolled with it and I left Jane and our new baby boy to go home and tell Maddie about her new brother.
The staff were positive, upbeat and to be honest, COVID-19 did not take away from the joy of having a new addition to the family.
Honestly, it was ok, there was no panic, no worries and although we were aware of the COVID-19 pandemic, I don’t think it ruined the moment; and the health and well being of our baby boy was not compromised at all. The only thing that I feel was not ok was having to leave my wife and baby when they went down to the postnatal ward.
If the birth had had complications or something else went not quite right, I think it would be a different story.
If you are pregnant and due to give birth in the next few weeks, please don’t panic or worry you will be ok just try and enjoy the moment as there won’t be many times you give birth in the middle of a pandemic.