The coronavirus crisis has turned life upside down for people across Lincolnshire, not least for new and expecting parents who are facing birth in lockdown.
Right now, antenatal classes and home births are suspended across the county. Some early appointments are by phone, birthing partners cannot attend assessments and scans, and there are limitations to births too. No visitors are allowed and some women with children are facing giving birth alone due to restricted childcare.
Inside the maternity wards, whilst anxieties are high for those on the front line, masked midwives are working day and night to give women the best birthing experience possible.
Most prominently, for those bringing babies into an unfamiliar new world, the absence of friends and family can be difficult to cope with.
First time parents Rachel Wilders, 36, and partner Yu Ting Yau, 31, from Lincoln welcomed baby Robin into the world on March 25, two days into the nationwide lockdown.
“I always imagined my mum would be at hand to help and teach me how to do it,” said Rachel, who is still waiting to introduce Robin to family members.
The hardest part, she explained, was battling ‘baby blues’ amidst overwhelming national news. “For the first few nights I was awake with cold sweats and anxiety. All I could think about was the possibility of contracting COVID-19.
“I also spent the first week crying every time someone phoned or video called to meet Robin.
“My midwife assured me that I was not the only one feeling this way.
“I’m still getting upset but nowhere near as bad as the first week. We are taking it day by day and I am using breathing techniques.”
On the subject of Robin’s birth, Rachel spoke with gratitude. Her birthing plan had been completely redrawn, but her experience and thoughts of the midwifery team at Lincoln County Hospital were nothing but positive.
She had battled gestational diabetes through her pregnancy and managed to lose a stone and a half.
Reconsidering a planned cesarian section, she was eventually induced and, at that time, her partner Yau was permitted to be by her side.
“I would like to thank all the staff on the Nettleham and Barney wards. You are all amazing,” she said.
“Yau has also been amazing throughout and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.”
United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust’s maternity department has been helping to share the latest restrictions, to normalise lockdown births and to introduce parents to their dedicated team.
The team is also sharing some beautiful Lincolnshire lockdown baby announcements.
Across the UK babies’ first experiences are of isolation and social distancing.
This image of little Faolán, who was born in Ireland has captured the hearts of thousands across the globe.
The Tweet has more than 700,000 likes.
Building strength together
New and expecting partners are also being invited to join a Lincolnshire Facebook group designed to connect people during the crisis.
The social group is helping those in need of advice, essentials and even a friendly ear to talk about their feelings.
The latest NHS guidance on pregnancy and coronavirus can be found online here.
Lincolnshire announcements are posted on social media here.