Birth during lockdown – Carolines story

Birth during Lockdown

Caroline’s story of giving birth at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

During the global pandemic

I don’t know about you but I have seen a LOT of confusion online, especially on social media, throughout the covid-19 pandemic. Contradictory stories, scaremongering and LOTS of guessing has left a lot of unsure who are what to believe.

For those of you who are expecting a baby in the near future I can only imagine how scary it must be. Let’s face it the prospect of pushing a tiny human out is frightening anyway but add in the possibility of having to do it alone, without your birth partner and that’s just heart breaking. So when I heard that my friend Caroline was in labour and read her birth story I just knew I had to ask her if we could share her story! I can’t promise this is how your experience will go but I hope it is reassuring to know that Caroline had a wonderful, positive birth experience. Her husband, Neil, was with her for the birth and able to stay with her for some time afterwards. She did not have to give birth alone. She still received excellent care. And most importantly she and her beautiful baby girl are now home, healthy and happy with proud big brother Hayden!

So now, over to Caroline! We did this as a sort of interview so if you have any questions of your own please feel free to message me and we can add to the post!


How were you worried lockdown and The Covid-19 pandemic would affect your birthing experience?

There was the unknown that my birthing partner would not be allowed in. The guidelines for NHS Lothian were if he was was not showing symptoms then he was allowed to be there for active labour and birth however, was scared he would get ill as he’s a key worker and the one doing the shopping etc.I was also a bit nervous about asking another family member to look after my son to allow myself and husband to go to the hospital.

What had you heard online/on social media about what might happen differently?

I had seen a number of articles on social media and on the tv regarding birthing partners not being allowed, patients and partners having to wear masks, water births being suspended and gas and air not being safe to use. None of which were true in my experience. I was allowed my partner by my side during ‘active labour’. I was allowed a water birth (in fact the pool was already filled for me even though this was not my plan) & gas and air also was provided. Midwives and staff wore masks however, patients and partners did’nt require to. I’d also read that there was midwife shortages so you might not have the same midwife throughout.

How did your experience match up with expectations?
My expectations were that I would be pretty much taken in, isolated & sent back home again as quickly as possible after baby was born. That the staff would be run off their feet as they were understaffed so you wouldn’t get the same loving care as normal. I was prepared to have to do it on my own if my husband became ill or had to stay home to look after our son. However, The reality vs what I expected was the opposite end the scale. They staff were patient and very understanding, they took onboard my wishes and my concerns and spent time with me both through labour and afterwards. They honestly went above and beyond to make me feel as relaxed and normal as possible. I was not only allowed to have an amazing water birth with the gas and air (the only pain relief I would take, no epidural etc) but my husband was by my side AND allowed to stay for bonding time afterwards.
Baby was born at 16:29 (10th April) and he was asked to leave at 19:00. The amazing midwife I had from the start of active labour to being moved to the postnatal ward made it an experience to remember for all the right reasons. She let me pick my baby up from the bottom of the pool and cut her cord. Two things I thought I’d never do or be-able to say I’d did. We were left alone for family bonding. This allowed us to have some video call time with family to introduce our new little girl. I also had time to shower in the comfort of the birthing suite not in a shared shower-room so didn’t need to worry about leaving the baby on her own. After overnight baby monitoring (due to Group B step). I was discharged before lunch. I was home by 12 noon on Saturday 11th April. Upon discharge all relevant info regarding midwife visits, helplines, birth registration etc was explained verbally and provided in packs.
Any advice for pregnant ladies who are likely to give birth during the pandemic?

Dont be scared to ask for help and support. It’s only natural to have concerns. If you are left on your own, such as in antenatal ward use a video call to call someone to emotionally support you. I called my mum! Don’t have too strict a birthing plan, have your no-go’s but go in with your options open.
Check with your local hospital what their regulations are at this time because they are not all following the same protocol. This also includes scans and scheduled appointments. Don’t be taken in by all the negative media. If you have other children, leave with a trusted family member at your own home where possible when you go to hospital (My midwives advice). Stay strong – You’re due to have you’re baby now because you ARE strong enough to do it!

How do you feel your birthing partner was treated?

I feel my husband was treated very fairly when he arrived. It didnt feel like anything was different and all the concerns of this virus were shoved to the back of our minds.

What was your birthing partners experience like?

As he was only allowed in for active labour he was only with me for 1hour 30mins before baby was born but he was made feel very welcome from the moment he was let in the door & he was delighted he got so long to stay afterwards.

Does he have any advice for birthing partners?
Buy a good book and buy snack supplies before as you could be in for a long wait outside. Remember a phone charger if possible to charge in car. Also don’t be afraid to work out in a car park!
montage of photos showing carolines birth story at edinburgh royal infirmary simpsons maternity unit during the corona virus lockdown pandemic
I hope that reading Caroline’s story provides expectant families some reassurance that they will be able to be together for birth and still receive excellent care. Caroline delivered at Simpson’s at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary if you have given birth at St John’s in Livingston and would like to share your experience please get in touch as I’d love to share your story too!
These are uncertain times but one thing we can be certain of is that we are blessed to have an incredible healthcare system here in Scotland and the UK. And our babies will be born into love and joy regardless of what is happening on the news. If you are pregnant please also come join our online support group, a safe place to ask questions and share experiences.
Stay healthy, stay safe and enjoy staying home in your beautiful baby bubble!
Much love,
Rachael x




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