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Birth Partner Experience During COVID-19

Written By: Erica

Our 2nd baby was due in early June. She would be a little sister to our 2-year-old, never when we found out my wife was pregnant would we have imagined how different the pregnancy and birth would be to the one we had experienced just two years earlier.

I have experienced childbirth myself 3 times so being the birth partner was a very different experience with our first daughter, although I loved it. I had all the firsthand experience and was able to remain calm and reassuring but at the same time understood how terrifying and painful labour itself can be. So fast forward 2 years and that all changed.

All of a sudden halfway through the pregnancy I had to stop going to appointments. Had to stop being the one who asked all the questions and retained the information. Had to watch my wife who to be honest was left quite traumatised by her first birth experience walk into the hospital alone every time and know how much she needed me to be by her side. This intensified greatly when we realised that this pregnancy was now considered high risk due to growth restriction and consultant care was needed going forward. So, the need for a calm and questioning partner was all the more important but wasn’t allowed.

The amount of appointments increased, and all had to be attended alone.

Each time I sat in the car and hoped and prayed for good news when I saw her little scared face coming back. But this little lady was not growing, and an induction was booked for 37 weeks. The level of anxiety for my wife went through the roof at this stage. Scouring through the hospital website and social media to find some sort of idea how long she would be alone for. The stress of this no doubt was dangerous for both her and our unborn baby.

The weeks before birth that should be exciting and used to spend time with our toddler were instead spent very silent, upset and totally terrified of what was ahead.

The day of induction came and we had to drive to a hospital that was unknown to us as our local hospital had suspended maternity services. I couldn’t even enter the building with her. I had to hand her her little suitcase and watch her walk in totally alone.

She went without saying goodbye as she knew all the emotion would just flow out and she didn’t want the midwives to see her arriving in floods of tears. And then I went home. With my stomach churning and waited, and waited.

She went through a painful and scary induction alone without me to hold her hand and tell her it was ok. All I could do was text her from the sofa at home and try to distract from how sad it was for us both. Luckily for both of us the induction worked well and as I was preparing to get ready to go to hospital to be allowed into the labour ward the worst thing happened. The baby showed the same signs of distress that had turned our first labour into an emergency. Except this time I couldn’t sit by her side and wipe her tears away.

She had to be scared alone. And I had to drive the 30-minute drive not knowing what was happening in that hospital room. By the time I got there luckily everything had regulated again, but once that has happened everyone including the midwives are on high alert. The relief to be there was just indescribable, now I was able to be the support that every woman needs by her side.

The next part was great, it felt like normal life, baby came quickly and safely, she didn’t need to go to special care, and we got to be together, and it was all perfect. But it was time limited.

Again, regulation meant that I had to leave as soon as they were ready to be moved onto the postnatal ward. Another night separated, but at least we knew everyone was safe tonight.

The staff were fantastic, they understood how hard it was, and they let mummy and baby go home as early as humanly possible the next day. Home, where we could be together, even though no family were allowed, but together was enough. We just wish it could have been that way the whole way through.

Erica with her wife Laura and baby Emy
Written By: Erica