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?
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?
Anyone can claim to be a qualified newborn photographer but in fact there is no such thing. Anyone can buy a camera and call themselves a newborn specialist. but I don't believe they should. For this reason I am a proud member of BANPAS and delighted to be the only photographer in Edinburgh to have been accepted as a Pro level member. This means a panel of expert newborn photographers have assessed the quality of my images and agreed that my work is of Pro newborn standard. I train multiple times a year to ensure I am always working to the very highest standards as I know how special your first few weeks are as a family and I want to give you the very best experience and images to remember it by.
So who am I and why on earth should you hand your precious days old baby over to me, a perfect stranger?! As a mummy of two I completely understand the enormity of that in itself! Brand new babies are usually only handled by family and trained medical professionals before they come to my studio and then you hand them to me. So you want to feel confident that I know what I am doing and your baby is in safe hands. Did you know there is NO qualification or official "training" or certification required to call yourself a newborn photographer? Literally anyone can buy a camera and call themselves a 'newborn specialist'. Those terms mean nothing unless they can be backed up by training, experience and knowledge. I guarantee you that I have all three! I have photographed over a thousand babies since opening my business so you can relax knowing your baby is in expert hands.
As experienced as I am, I never want to rest on my laurels. I train several times a year with the best photographers in the industry. I want to offer you the very best experience from start to finish. In the past few years I have taken part in training on subjects including lighting, studio posing, family outdoor photography, maternity posing, GDPR, paediatric first aid and more. I also train other photographers in the art of newborn baby photography and offer business mentoring to photographers.
I'M A MUMMY TOO!
When our second son was born I stepped out from behind the camera. Like most new mums I didn't feel great about how I was looking, my roots almost certainly needed doing and I probably had no clue what day of the week it was! But can you tell from those photos? Nope. All I see is love. The images of me holding him are the most precious photos of me in existence. Because we never thought he would happen. But he did. And he completed our family. So I get it, you're tired and you might not feel at your best. But trust me in a year or so when you look at those photos you wont see those things. You will see love. And so will your children when they look at those same images in years to come.
Life beyond the studio..... Some silly nonsense about me!
- Favourite smells: a peat fire or the smell of the sea
- Favourite sounds: baby giggles, my children playing together, the sound of the sea and anything by Biffy Clyro
- Favourite places: any beach in Caithness (my home county), Applecross and New York
- My signature dish: I wish I could say something fancy but it's most likely lentil soup, Im a highland girl!
- Go to treats: a bath, a cold glass of wine and a good book - bliss