So Does This Mean I'll Be Giving Birth Alone?by Laura Driver
Where we are all feeling the pressure and anxiety of lockdown there is one group who have an added anxiety. Pregnant women have been told to self-isolate which means they are missing antenatal appointments and fearful of what this means for them when it comes to giving birth. Are they at further risk? Will they give birth alone? If they have a c-section will they be alone in the hospital? All of these are valid concerns with advice and changes and sometimes without consistency.
Over the weekend a hospital in New York announced that they would no longer allow any non-patients whatsoever: women will give birth without birthing partners or support people at all. Are other hospitals likely to follow suit? And what does this mean for here in the UK where services are "under strain" and women may face "lessened choice" on birthing options.
One of our Facebook Fans shared her fears in an ‘Ask The Fans’ question on our Facebook page;
"I am currently 35 weeks pregnant and with all this COVID-19 I am completely terrified about going into labour. I'm scared something will happen to our new baby and asking if anyone has had a baby recently and was everything ok while in hospital? My anxiety is through the roof at the moment."
Our fans who had recently given birth reported that, in the main, they had had positive experiences;
Alice: I had a baby last week and they were brilliant with me. In the hospital I gave birth in they restricted visiting hours and the number of people who can visit you to just one. Speak to your midwife if you have any concerns, they will be able to answer any queries you have.
Elle: My friend had her baby on Mother's Day and was a very healthy delivery! Most hospitals are kept clean from those with Covid-19 and anyone with symptoms or signs are strictly not allowed on the premises!
Julia: I had my baby 4 days ago, in UHW Cardiff. Everything was ok, midwives were lovely, everyone's working extra hard to keep things as normal and stress-free as possible. I had an amazingly positive experience!
Others who are due to give birth shared concerns;
Aisha: I'm 39 weeks! First baby, I'm a nervous wreck! Really upset I won't be allowed family members to visit me but I'm thankful they're still allowing my birth partner.
Alison: I'm 35+3 and dreading the whole experience now to be honest. Baby was big and breech on growth scan at 32 weeks. Supposed to have repeat scan & consultant appt and they've been cancelled twice now with no follow-up, other than "someone will ring you" - who will? When? I feel massively like this is all out of our control & I hate it
Another issue that was raised was what to do with siblings when you go into labour. Samantha shared her situation;
Samantha: I'm 37 weeks tomorrow. There are changes which will make things more difficult if you have other children, but I think the midwives and consultants are doing everything they can. The problem I have is that the father may not be able to see his baby born. My mum is in lockdown and I have a little girl that my partner is likely going to have to stay at home with as she can't come to the hospital.
Other concerns included the ability to get essentials for baby such as nappies, formula and wipes, post-birth health checks being cancelled and the uncertainty of the length of lockdown.
Currently, in the UK, with tougher measures in maternity wards in some hospitals, pregnant women are only allowed one birthing partner and are restricted in who can visit them. A spokesperson for the NHS stated that 'The NHS is asking the public to help protect patients and staff from coronavirus as far as possible by advising strict limits on visitors in most cases,' they said, 'although a specific exception can be made for women in labour if clinical staff also agree it is safe to do so.'
At present, our NHS workers and midwives are doing what they can make the situation as normal as possible for mothers during labour and the levels of care for both baby and mum appear to be uncompromised. Hopefully, the current restrictions do not get any worse.
We want to hear about your experience of labour during this difficult time, for a follow-up piece. Contact us on our Facebook page.