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Pregnant in a pandemic

Our reporter Sarah shares her personal experience

Lockdown is a tricky world to navigate for all of us, but what about if you’re pregnant? I share my thoughts as I hit the 5 month mark… By Sarah Bradbury.

After the initial shock of pregnant women being singled out, along with other high-risk groups, as needing to self-isolate for 12 weeks back in mid-March, I’ve since settled well into my quarantine bubble with my partner.

We still go out for exercise once a day. I wait outside the supermarket for him at our weekly shop (and usually complain when he forgets to buy cereal or avocados or cookies – I blame it on “cravings”). He sometimes does pregnancy yoga videos with me with a cushion stuffed up his t-shirt in solidarity…

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The times where the enforced quarantine bites are when it comes to both medical and family support. Midwife appointments have been cut back. I had to go it alone at my 20-week-scan last week. That felt tough partly because I have a phobia of hospitals and usually like a bit of distraction.

But also the incredibly in-depth nature of the scan at that point, which checks each last part of the anatomy from fingers and toes to spine and kidneys – plus its little heartbeat – is simply not done justice by that one blurry picture I had to pass to the father and Whatsapp to my mum.

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To sit in the waiting room with the other 20-weekers also felt strange. I found myself wondering about each of the women, sat on chairs spaced two metres apart as though we were teenagers about to sit GCSEs – how did they feel to be there alone?

Were they anxious or afraid or lonely? Did they have the baby’s father or another companion at home to do their shopping and provide reassurance? One girl asked the doctor to write the baby’s gender on a bit of paper so she would find out at the same time as her partner when she got home.

And of course I had to compare the relative size of my bump, to which I concluded I’m already on the waddling hippo-end of the spectrum…

maternity reception

While the day-to-day feels calm, comfy and under control, I can’t help but jump ahead to D-Day, which for me should fall on 30th Aug. When the outbreak first hit I naively assumed things would be back to normal by then and I felt more for those due imminently – but now I’m not so sure.

Resources are under strain, with some maternity units 30 or 40% down on staff. Some birth centres are being redesignated coronavirus units. Most hospitals are allowing one birth partner but only during labour, with no-one allowed to visit or stay after. Some have even said no birth partner at all.

My mind also sporadically turns to those I would usually be closest to in this time. I’ve not seen my mum or siblings nor everyone else for that matter since early March. I’m a bit shit at video calls but am sending the odd bump update pic. How long will it be till I can see them? Will it be after I pop now? And what about my partner’s family in Madrid? Will the kid be months old before anyone else but myself and Alex can hold him?

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It feels surreal to imagine I will see some friends for the first time already with a baby strapped to my front, as if it appeared from nowhere. And gone are all those networking opportunities all parents strongly recommend as crucial to keeping your sanity intact, whether it’s NCT classes or baby yoga or other excuses there are out there to connect with others in the same boat.

The best medicine for those nagging concerns is to nudge myself back to what is really important. Ultimately, there is no evidence I or our baby are at any greater risk from the virus. And I feel confident I will get the essential help I need, when I need it.

Having someone to hold your hand during scans or birth in the end is a bonus. As is having a cuddle from your mum or sister or friend. A baby shower missed is no doubt a bullet dodged…As long as I can stay healthy through the pregnancy and birth, that’s all that really matters. He’ll have his chance to be out in the world soon enough.

Are you pregnant in lockdown? Get in touch to share your story sarahbradbury5@gmail.com.