Trigger warning: some of these stories may contain content that is distressing to read regarding mental health or baby loss

When pregnant women were declared ‘vulnerable’ in March 2020, my employer sent me home to begin my maternity leave. Leading up to my due date, my husband and I enjoyed quality time playing ‘Monopoly’, and laughing into the early hours. I will always be thankful for this time.

My final midwifery appointments, I attended alone. None of it seemed real and I felt hopeful. I then noticed maternity services were scaling back and pregnant women were scared.

At 37 weeks and 4 days, I was diagnosed with Obstetric Cholestasis. I attended blood tests, additional monitoring and quickly became consultant led with an induction date for 48 hours time. I understood that my baby and I needed help. But I was denied my love, comfort and support. I was to be alone.

I told myself not to cry as I kissed my husband and entered the ward. I was induced and progressed quickly. I was hyper-stimulated and my son was back to back. The ward was stretched and pain relief didn’t come when I asked. By the time I entered the labour ward, I couldn’t acknowledge my own husband. I had no advocate, I had lost my sense of self. It was a traumatic delivery and I won’t forget the look on my husbands face as his new family were wheeled away and he was shown the door.

I felt terrified for us all. For our health and what may become of me. I attended our postnatal appointments alone with midwives talking to me from across the room. Our breastfeeding journey also came to a traumatic end as I was faced with using formula or re-admittance to hospital. I developed PND and am coming to terms with how my beautiful boy entered the world.

I found out I was pregnant in January 2020, before we knew the virus was going to change our lives. I was given my first scan in February when I was 8 weeks pregnant; the hospital thought this was my 12 week scan and had got their dates wrong. My husband came with me and we didn’t know it then but it would be the last time he accompanied me to any appointment until the birth.

I had a very straightforward pregnancy and on the day I was 12 weeks pregnant, my school closed and I worked from home until the start of the next academic year.

My due date came and a day of contractions at home followed. We got to hospital to be told I had to go to triage and my husband wasn’t allowed in. During this time, I was alone, having very regular contractions and distressed.

I was lucky enough to have a place in the birth centre which under Covid restrictions at that point, allowed the birth partner to be present at all times. This was such a relief and I know I was very fortunate to have this support. The midwives were just phenomenal and did such a wonderful job of looking after us all. Covid seemed a world away in that room.

We came home that afternoon of 1st October and resumed our little bubble. Covid continued to force us to be self-sufficient; we have only seen a handful of friends and the only family we’ve seen are the new grandparents.

I know I am lucky. I had an easy pregnancy, an easy birth and have a wonderful baby. Covid has undoubtedly restricted things for us. It’s been a year and experience unlike any other but I wouldn’t change it.

I went to the hospital and they said I was in full-blown labour. I got in the birthing pool and within 15 mins our wonderful son Blair arrived. Everything was perfect, or so I thought. We was ready to be discharged when the midwife said she didn’t like Blair’s breathing and his temp had dropped. Ten mins later a consultant sent him to special care. My husband had gone home to get our other child.

There was all sorts of words being thrown about and Blair was given a cannula for antibiotics. I stayed the night in hospital but away from my baby. It was the worst I’d ever felt. Next morning, they said Blair had a virus, they think it’s strepB. My heart broke.

We would be in hospital for 2 weeks. I wasn’t allowed to see anyone. My husband couldn’t come see his son. Blair needed a lumbar puncture, more tests and was really poorly.

I was confined to a room and only allowed to use the toilet. I couldn’t speak to other mums. I just wanted a cuddle from my family. Then I lost my bond with my child. I was feeding, winding, changing and just putting him back in his cot so I could stare out the window. I was really low and couldn’t come to terms with it all. Someone suggested breastfeeding. The moment I started, I felt a special bond with my baby again. When I found out the infection was coming down, I broke and the nurse hugged me. It felt amazing. She wasn’t allowed but were both wearing masks. She’d watched me suffer for so many days.

Finally, we was discharged. Blair is coming along amazing and we’re a happy little family. I’m forever grateful to all the staff at the hospital.

I was 10 weeks pregnant when lockdown hit. Luckily I was through the worst of the tiredness and sickness, and had my toddler to entertain 24/7, whilst my partner kept going out to work. All in all we were in a very lucky position.

What women have endured through this pandemic is enough to make my blood boil – all the home schooling, caring, sacrifices, the emotional load. I felt terrible struggling with fear and anxiety around something so longed for as our second child, at a time when people were suffering so badly during the pandemic … but in honesty it gave me a huge gift.

My first experience of birth was fairly traumatic – several days of latent labour, augmentation, assisted delivery in theatre followed by 5 days in hospital. On top of this, I suffered with postnatal anxiety and depression for several years following our firstborn. These factors, along with being a ‘mature’ mother who grows big babies, meant I was under consultant care, and pretty early they advised they wanted to induce me at 38 weeks. However, I started to worry about being in hospital on my own, possibly for days, away from the support of my partner and from our son.

As my pregnancy progressed, I realised a home birth was the most sensible option for us, something I would never have considered if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. I would have blindly followed the medical advice – as well meaning as it is – and been induced at 38 weeks. The glorious outcome was that we were able to meet our baby on our terms … and it was a wonderful healing experience, with no mental health issues since. As hard as the pandemic has been, I will always be grateful for that.

We found out we were pregnant a week before lockdown. On the first Friday of lockdown I was taken to hospital with a major bleed. No one was able to scan me on that Friday night so we had to wait until Monday morning when I had to go in solo to confirm the miscarriage….Turns out it may have been triplets, but now there are definitely 2. Fast forward from 6 weeks with two babies to 12 weeks, and yet another scan on my own. The first thing I saw was a deceased foetus. Sonographer says ‘were you not expecting that?’. Now we are down to 1.

From here on, I worked with Pregnant Then Screwed to get my partner access to further growth scans. Our MP spoke about us in the House of Commons. Come November we had a daughter by C-section and were sent home 24hrs post surgery. This shouldn’t happen for so many reasons. The trauma of the speed; loneliness and lack of support made the baby blues so much harder.

My baby girl was born at the end of December, when covid cases were rising to an extremely worrying number. The only options available for birth was the hospital wing and my idea of a water birth wasn’t possible due to all other wings being closed as the hospital was understaffed plus cases were rising by the day. I had been admitted to hospital initial for a case of bleeding, and they had kept me in for monitoring. Being a first time mum, I had absolutely no idea of what to expect and also without my partner it was even worse! I was at St Thomas’ London and the staff I did have were absolutely amazing… over a period of 2 weeks I was in and out of the hospital for 11 days. I had a fab midwife who really helped me with breastfeeding when it was super tough and I was crying alone in my bed, with my baby fast asleep next to me. Due to covid visiting hours my husband could visit but only 1-5pm which was definitely not enough time! To be in hospital after baby was born for 4 days was super tough, and essentially alone, was very hard emotionally and physically. The picture here is my little one on a video call with my partner on day 2. 🙂

Our second daughter Meena was born on 26th March 2020 and turned 1 in March. We live in Manchester. Because our family all live in different parts of the country, my mum got to meet her for the first time when she was 15 weeks old! My dad finally got to meet her when she was 14 months old.

When people live close to family they know they can meet outside at least but sadly until overnights were allowed it massively impacted who we could see.

I had a natural birth with my first daughter but Meena was an emergency c section. I remember just being so frightened I would catch Covid and I wouldn’t be able to feed her or she would get poorly. I remember doing everything the midwives asked of me in the hospital so I could get home. I was home within 35 hours. Thankfully it was Easter holidays for 2 weeks as my 5 year old was at home and then homeschooling started.

We have had so many positives though. My husband had to work from home so he had a paternity leave he never would have had and we got so much extra time together.

It’s not the maternity I had planned but despite it all she has blossomed. I know for first time mums it must have been so scary worrying that they were missing out on baby groups etc especially with articles out there saying pandemic babies won’t develop the same. But Meena is evidence that the groups are more for the mums to meet other mums and socialise. Meena is chatting, standing up, crawling and hitting all the development milestones. She hasn’t been to one baby group or really been socialised to other babies and she is the happiest little thing.

We suffered two pregnancy losses in 2019 (first a late loss of our son and secondly an early loss). The losses hit us hard and we genuinely didn’t believe another child was meant for us. To find out we were expecting was incredible although we were equally filled with worry. The pandemic felt like an added worry on top of everything else.

I was advised from the get-go that I would be closely monitored with multiple scans, blood tests and appointments. I attended each appointment without my husband who is my support for everything in life. It was so hard to attend scans and appointments alone on the back of two losses, each time worrying there would be bad news. I recall sobbing at the first scan – I was convinced the sonographer would say there was no heartbeat.

I found it particularly hard not being able to meet family and friends to share anxieties about the pregnancy in person. Although, it felt almost selfish to talk about my own worries too much when everyone has been going through a shared crisis.

Another factor was fear of catching Covid. My husband and I were working from home but our son had to attend school and that increased anxieties about Covid entering the home. We are so grateful that it didn’t.

On 30 March our beautiful youngest son was delivered safe and well via a planned C-section, with no idea of the crazy world he had entered. My husband was with me throughout and our theatre team gave us a very positive birth experience.

Whilst being pregnant in a pandemic was challenging, I constantly remind myself of how fortunate we are. The pandemic was far from ideal but we have our baby here and healthy, what more could we ask for?

I was 30 weeks pregnant with my fourth baby when we were all forced into lockdown. We felt so isolated; it was just the boys, my husband and I. My pregnancy was dominated by feelings of fear and anxiety. Every day something dreadful was on the news. Letting things go and not checking the news daily was a turning point.

I could not help feeling that being pregnant at times like these was wrong. The fact that my mum was not going to be able to come for the delivery hit me very hard. Because of that, I made sure I was ready for the baby’s arrival much earlier than I would have done previously. I was packed and ready at 34 weeks. I found myself labelling all the cupboards in my house so if anyone needed to come to look after my boys they would know where to find things.

Days before Santiago was born, I started contracting in the evenings. As soon as I felt the cramps I would say, “Not today!” I was trying to stop the inevitable.

The evening I went into labour I felt ready. I felt that if it was going to happen, that day was as good as any other.
All dreams of having a home birth or a birth in the birth centre were taken away from me, yet once I reached my room, a sense of peace washed over me. The hospital staff, especially my midwife, were so supportive, so cheerful, so relaxed. I did not see faces, I only saw masks and eyes but, the kindness people showed, the empathy… It made this last experience more enjoyable than any other before. I managed to get the birth I wanted for my son. A year on and we feel so blessed.