Pregnancy is no easy means at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. Zoe Gater spoke to one mum-to-be about the obstacles she has been facing so far.
For the majority of new parents-to-be, pregnancy is an enjoyable and exciting time. Of course, there is lots to think about regarding the physical, psychological and financial changes – but now COVID-19 and lockdown have to be added into the mix, too.
Edina Pitts is currently 18-weeks pregnant and due to give birth at the end of October this year. “It has been hard not to be around my family at the moment, we are a very tightly knitted unit and do a lot together – so to go through this without some cuddles is hard”.
Many women are facing the same difficulties right now. Which appointments are considered essential? How do you get the help and advice if you need it? Can I still go to the shops? Understandably antenatal care is vital for the wellbeing of both your baby and yourself. The RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) and the Royal College of Midwives have said that at least six-face-to-face antenatal consultations must take place for pregnant women during lockdown.
“My first hospital appointment in the pandemic was my 12-week scan. It was quite daunting and made more so as I had to go alone, however most of the staff made it easy once I was in the maternity department.” Edina explained that the most difficult part of the appointment was that her partner couldn’t go along with her, this is particularly upsetting to the couple as it is their first child together. “With this said, I am less concerned now regarding future appointments as the hospital have dealt and are dealing with the social distancing well”.
“Now that I’ve been to the hospital once I don’t have any concerns about going again”.
Pregnant women were placed in the ‘vulnerable’ group by the Chief Medical Officer at the beginning of March. Some viral infections are worse for pregnant women but there is currently no evidence to show that pregnant women will be any more unwell than other healthy adults if they were to contract the coronavirus. The expected symptoms would likely be moderate cold or flu-like indicators e.g. cough, fever, shortness of breath and headache.
The idea of a pandemic occurring during Edina’s pregnancy wasn’t something she could have ever predicted when she saw the two lines show up on her pregnancy test. As she and her partner are still only just under half-way through her pregnancy, they haven’t put much thought into going into labour. “Other than the fact that my partner is a teacher and I’m due October half-term we haven’t thought about it, so fingers crossed it comes on time and he will be with me [when I go into labour]”.
“My main concern is that we are still in some form of lock down when I do go into labour and they [midwives] try to push for a home birth as I’d prefer to be at the hospital. Another would be that if we are still in lockdown/restrictions it will be hard not to take the baby to meet the family”.
Of course, it isn’t just the medical side of pregnancy that has been affected by COVID-19. Baby showers and celebratory gatherings have also had to be postponed and adjusted in order to adhere to the government guidelines. Some women have taken to zoom calls to replace their face-to-face baby showers. All of the same activities that would usually occur at the celebration of motherhood can still take place – just online. The invitations can be digital or hand-written, the presents can easily be pre-sent to the parents-to-be before the shower and the group can play online multiplayer games together. It’s unfortunate to have to cancel these milestone events but this is a brilliant way to feel as though you’re all still connected and to stay safe, too.
Edina explained that she hasn’t thought about this step yet – “I believe that my sister wanted to throw me one closer to the due date. If possible, we will only have a family baby shower rather than friends and family but will have to play it by ear”.
If you need further advice on your pregnancy or have any questions, contact your GP or midwife.