The one about pregnancy
The first in our series of three - being pregnant in the midst of a global pandemic.
As I write this, we are 22 weeks in, and while it has felt different, I think that’s more to do with running around after a very energetic toddler. It’s certainly less glamorous the second time round, I definitely couldn’t tell you the size of my baby in terms of fruit or vegetable, and the sleep deprivation is very real!
While we have had a pretty low impact experience so far, I wanted to share the experience of those who had been pregnant in the last year, whose pregnancies had been more heavily impacted by the covid crisis.
Both Leah and Amber are first time Mums, and while pregnancy is an uncertain, exciting, overwhelming, bonkers time for any parent, for first timers, in particular, everything is new. You don’t know what to expect, what is ‘normal’, and every kick, ache and pain is a strange, foreign feeling. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and these feelings are heightened even more.
For Leah, the early stages of her pregnancy were quite chilled. She didn’t see herself at any greater risk and wasn’t overly concerned about catching covid. However, this all changed when the government announced that pregnant women were classed as vulnerable, and she pretty much went into confinement from 7 months…
“I felt quite detached from the outside world - I only left the house to walk around the village or to attend hospital check-ups.”
Her biggest concern, which I’m sure many of you reading this would relate to, was how the pandemic would impact on the services that she might have been in need of. Basically, all the what ifs - what if she needed an ambulance, would one be available? Would there be an anaesthetist if she wanted an epidural, or a Doctor/surgeon if something went wrong? Could she have the regular scans and appointments to find out if there was anything wrong with the baby?
“It seemed to be the norm that you would leave one appointment and no one would know when you would be seen again. I just kept getting told someone would see me at the hospital if it was urgent.”
With healthcare workers and midwives having to navigate and adapt to the new restrictions that had been thrown at them, Leah found that her midwifery care did break down a bit. For her, she felt that if she hadn’t chased up appointments, she might have fallen through the net.
The NHS was so stretched at the time, that Leah felt like a burden picking up the phone. She says she put off far too many phone calls and questions, which meant she ended up having no idea what was going on or what to expect. She ended up getting most of her information from helpful Q & A sessions held on Facebook by her local midwifery team.
Her advice to others is to make sure to ask questions and to not feel like a burden. No question or worry is unimportant when it comes to pregnancy.
Amber knew that any birth was going to be hard, but carrying twins, she knew it was going to be especially tricky. The early stages of her pregnancy were pre lockdown, before the restrictions were in place, so her other half, Rich, was able to attend the 20 week scan. But after going into lockdown, things changed for her…
“I found it quite lonely. I had to be more independent and take myself to all my growth scans for the twins, and to be monitored when we were worried about movement.”
She also found the lack of preparation for birth tricky. She couldn’t attend antenatal classes and appointment times were limited, and for her, this took away some of the enjoyment of pregnancy. Although, in her own words, “I’m not sure pushing two human out of your body is ever going to be enjoyable!”
While missing out on sharing the more joyous parts with her friends and family, seeing their faces as her bump grew, there were some silver linings to being pregnant in a pandemic.
“In a way, my pregnancy was quite peaceful.”
Amber found herself on a lockdown version of bed rest, helping her combat the excessive tiredness that comes with growing new life. Every cloud...