Sharing my experience about having a baby during lockdown and how I found childbirth.
Pregnancy and childbirth are two things that are shrouded in mystery. Despite the world being online and people being able to share their experiences, no one really tells you what it is really like to have a baby. They all tell you that once you have the baby, you forget about the pain and the experience. Having a baby is a beautiful experience, incredible that your body can do something this amazing but it is not all sunshine and unicorns.
Lockdown could not have come at a worse time for me. I spent most of my pregnancy at home and despite the fact I could be at home and work from home, it was a very lonely time for me. As my due date came nearer, I was excited to finally have my baby and get to the end of my pregnancy. The last few weeks had become very uncomfortable and I wanted to get the weight off my back. However life had other plans.
Pregnant and two weeks overdue
My due date came and went, and two weeks there was still no sign of my baby making an appearance. Everyone and their son was asking me whether the baby was here yet but my baby was stubborn and refusing to make an appearance.
Sadly, this is where my maternal care with my midwives went down the drain. As I was full term and having a ‘normal’ baby with no complications, I was treated with indifference and despite being overdue, not given much information at all. I was offered the membrane sweep, you can google what that is. It was uncomfortable but painless and lasted for about 5 minutes. I had two of these, both were unsuccessful. The first was fine, I had a good midwife who talked me through what she was doing and told me that the baby wasn’t quite ready yet. The second was awful, I had a midwife who barely spoke to me and after doing the sweep, which lasted 10 seconds, she sent me off with no further information. I asked her about my induction (which was booked for two days later) and was told that I could read about it and it would all be fine.
Induction and Labour
I was told to arrive at the hospital at 8am on Thursday 9th July. I arrived at 8am and no one was expecting me. I was left in the waiting room and was finally found by a midwife who had no idea what I was talking about and why I was there. Over an hour later, another midwife came and said she was the ward manager and I probably not going to be induced today. Another midwife came 10 minutes later and said my bed was ready. As you can imagine, I was confused and had no idea what was going to happen to me.
I was given a corner bed on a ward and then left for a couple of hours. Then I had my blood pressure checked and my baby’s heart was kept on a monitor to ensure he was okay. With all the boxes ticked, I had another midwife turn up and insert the pessary to induce labour. Once it became active, my contractions started hard and fast. I was in a ridiculous amount of pain and it became unbearable pretty quickly. As I was in a corner bed, no one came to check on me despite me screaming the place down.
After a long while (I lost sense of time after that), I had a group of midwives arrive who couldn’t work out what was going on and finally they realised I was 7cm dilated and needed to be taken to the labour ward. However as the pessary had not been removed, so they had to dig around for that. It was so painful as they tried to fish around for it when all I wanted to do was to get this baby out of me.
I was transferred to the labour ward quite swiftly and by that point, I was already in active labour, 7cm dilated and could not speak. I was so out of it that I didn’t even realise the point where my husband was allowed into the hospital and that he was even in the room.
Labour, I won’t lie, was the most pain I have ever been in my entire life. It felt like an out of body experience. I thought I was speaking but I couldn’t say a single word. I could hear everything around me yet I felt like I was just observing, like I was trapped in my own head. It was the most terrifying experience of my life and the relief I felt when I had safely delivered my baby was unlike anything I had ever felt before.
Once my baby was delivered, we were allowed skin-to-skin contact with the baby for an hour and I was given time to shower. Once I was ready, my partner had to go home and I was moved up to the recovery ward.
The recovery ward was actually awful, understaffed and it was loud and noisy. I asked for food and was told the food service had closed for the night, but they would see what was in the kitchen. The midwife returned with three slices of plain white bread and a small pot of raspberry jam. I ate them as the last meal I had that day was breakfast that morning. The night on the ward was long and honestly, I didn’t sleep a wink. Women were crying out in pain and babies were crying all night. By morning, I was begging to be discharged as I wanted to go home as soon as possible.
In summary, giving birth in lockdown was not an easy experience. It really has affected my recovery, leaving me mentally exhausted and it has taken me six weeks just to write about it. I know that this is an unusual situation with the pandemic but this was the worst experience that I could have even imagined. I hope anyone going through the same, pregnancy or giving birth, does not have the same experience. I wish you all a safe delivery in much better circumstances.