Autumn musings on Covid, lockdown and resilience

It’s not ok and it’s not fair.   #butnotmaternity.

I’ve always liked this time of year, as summer draws to a close and the prospect of cosy, hygge nights beckons.  I’m enjoying the late summer sun and the turning of the leaves over Derbyshire’s hillsides.  Of course, this year is so different as we face the threat of another Covid-19 surge, more lockdowns and the anxiety that goes hand in hand with all that.

This week saw an announcement from our local hospital trust declaring that they had no intention of slackening restrictions on partners’ attendance at scans, screening tests or in early labour on the induction ward, and that visiting hours for partners would not be extended on the postnatal ward.

This is despite the NHS’s own recommendation that trusts must balance the needs of families in the perinatal period against the management of the risks posed by Covid-19.  Currently dads can hang out with five mates at the pub, mingle with other parents, children and teachers on the school run and go to the supermarket but not attend antenatal appointments, be with their partners in early labour or stay with their new family on the postnatal ward.

The RCOG guidance states that birthing people should be able to have “at least one well birth partner present with you during labour and birth ….  Having at least one trusted birth partner present throughout labour is known to make a significant difference to the safety and wellbeing of women in childbirth”  with regard to partners and co-parents attending scans and staying on the postnatal wards RCOG says this “… On 5 June 2020, the suspension of hospital visiting in England of inpatients and those who accompany women and other patients to outpatient appointments was lifted. This means that visiting is now subject to local discretion by Trusts and other NHS bodies”

In other words, the hospital could, as is happening in other trusts, allow partners to be present throughout, with appropriate PPE, distancing etc, and yet dads and other co-parents are still being subjected to hours spent in the car park while women labour alone on the induction ward, snatching moments with their new-born babies within postnatal ward visiting times while new mums struggle the rest of the time to care for their baby alone, and pregnant people are still receiving devastating news at scan appointments without the support of their partners, who then have to hear the news later, separately, with no opportunity to ask questions or seek their own support.  It’s not ok and it’s not fair.  For more on this just spend some time with #butnotmaternity.

As I continue to support families transitioning through the early stages of parenthood during this awful pandemic, I am constantly blown away by the connections being made in Zoom sessions, over What’s App groups and via Facebook.  Nothing fully compensates for missing out on real human contact but we do seem to be finding ways to find what we need in our online spaces.  Of course, small groups are able to meet and some baby groups are opening up but I’m still constantly impressed by how willing people are to push their boundaries and seek commonality via technology.  I’m also enjoying some rare face to face interactions, as I have been able to visit a couple of families at home recently to offer practical, Covid-compliant, postnatal doula services.  Some things really can’t be done virtually and I’m happy to offer non-contact home visits for those who want them.

One thing that works equally brilliantly in person or over Zoom is my 3-step rewind process for lifting those heavy feelings that can follow a difficult or traumatic birth experience.  A recent rewind client sent me this:

“I didn’t think it would be possible to feel differently about my birth and feeding experiences but now I can remember and grieve properly without feeling so anxious and angry all the time.  I’m definitely a better mummy too, I’m sure my baby has noticed that I am more relaxed.  I feel so much more like my self”.

If you are interested in how this process or any of my other services might help you feel more like yourself, have a look at my website and get in touch.

In other news, The Crafty Lucy is still crafting!  I’ve decided to close The Crafty Lucy FB page as the Doula page is doing well and I found I was duplicating a lot.  My latest crafty offering is printable birth affirmations and I’m delighted to announce that Set 2 is now scanned, digitised and ready to download and print.  You can buy them direct from me here or over on Etsy here . The Percy Placenta crochet pattern is still in the pipeline, hopefully it will be ready for release in the next few weeks.