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

It was tough going to all the appointments on my own and not having my husband as part of the process too. Luckily, I had a pretty uncomplicated pregnancy and birth.

After my daughter was born I had to stay in hospital for some observations, unfortunately she wasn’t well enough to go home and we ended up staying in for a week. Hands down, it was the hardest week of my life. My husband didn’t feel like a Dad for that first week of her life as he couldn’t see us and I was left on my own. After a few days all the staff on the ward blurred into one, just a mask on a face, I couldn’t distinguish between anyone. The ward was so busy that staff didn’t have much time to spend with any of the women in there, it was so hectic. My anxiety level was sky high as I couldn’t remember who was who or follow what was going on as my baby was having test after test. All this while struggling to breastfeed and barely any sleep. It all got too much and I had a dissociative episode, I was babbling nonsense and just remember calling my husband and putting him on speakerphone so he could explain how much I was struggling and advocate for me. The perinatal mental health team were a massive support at that time. I really think it’s underestimated how much wearing a mask obscures communication. Although it was necessary, due to COVID-19, not seeing a whole face for a week and being separated from my husband had a huge effect on me.

My second baby was due end of April 2020 but 3 weeks prior I experienced labour pain. My husband alongside my elder daughter dropped me at the parking lot of the hospital on 6th April for a check-up. Doc advised for emergency C-section. I was so scared to come to hospital again during the pandemic that I agreed straight away. In 3 hours of reaching hospital, I was already in theatre and my baby boy was in my hands by 13:30.

During the first peak, husbands were not allowed in the ward so the happiest moment was quite dull in the ghostly ward. I was so anxious of hospital settings that I was on my feet by 6 PM and discharged the next day. As I often mention to my friend’s, my dear husband dropped me at the parking lot and picked me and baby from the parking lot.

We do not have any family in UK and due to the pandemic nobody could travel to help us out. We are really thankful to a friendly neighbour and friends who helped us with 1 meal a day for a week, after which I was up and running and between two of us we could manage 2 kids and our appetite.

The hardest part is that my baby will be 1 year-old in 1 week’s time and unfortunately, he hasn’t met any of our family yet. We have cancelled tickets thrice now. With my firstborn we had travelled twice to India in first year itself.

We moved to RAF Waddington in October 2019 and in November we found out we were expecting. The thrill was incredible as we had been told I do not ovulate and would need medical help to get pregnant.

We had scans in January and March 2020 that my husband was able to attend. This was the last time he was able to come with me for anything.

At 37+5 weeks I was told I needed to be induced due to reduced movements, gestional diabetes and slow growth. When I was admitted for induction, my husband dropped me off. When I was 9cm dilated I struggled to get hold of him. He just got to the hospital around 0040 and our beautiful firstborn daughter arrived swiftly at 0101.

Baby and I were kept in for four days. He was allowed to visit us once a day for maximum an hour. This was incredibly hard. Baby didn’t want to latch, I wasn’t producing enough milk and ended up having a very traumatic experience.

Once we were home it was a struggle to adjust as it would be for anyone, but not having family and being on an RAF base it was complete isolation. At 4 months, I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. This impacted on my bond with our baby and my relationship with my husband. We are finally starting to see the light. Our daughter is almost 9 months old and still has barely met anyone. We have been denied baby classes and support groups. First-time mothers have been completely forgotten about. I feel as though I have been robbed of the maternity leave I thought I would have. The first year of her life where she has changed so much – all of our families have missed out on this.

My son Henry was born in July 2020. I had a very traumatic labour culminating in a forceps delivery in theatre and a massive haemorrhage where I lost 2 litres of blood.

A week afterwards, I was still bleeding heavily. As I was exclusively breastfeeding, Henry was allowed to join me in triage but my husband had to wait outside the ward. I wasn’t strong enough to look after Henry on my own, so we had to keep passing him back and forth in the corridors.

At 4 weeks postpartum, they decided to operate to remove the final piece of retained placenta. I was given 24 hours notice and told Henry couldn’t be with me at all due to Covid restrictions.

I didn’t own a breast pump and Henry had never taken a bottle so I was devastated and couldn’t cope with the idea of leaving my newborn baby for a day or maybe more. The consultants requested an exemption to be made but this was declined by the ward manager.

The night before the surgery, I stayed up all night trying to express enough milk to leave Henry at home.

The operation is usually performed under general anaesthetic but I begged the anaesthetist to allow me to have a spinal block as I wanted to recover and get home asap. Thankfully he agreed! Being awake in theatre was mentally very challenging.

After the operation, the consultant recommended I stay in overnight but I refused. I knew Henry needed me. I discharged myself 3 hours after surgery, still bleeding heavily and very confused. I walked myself down to the carpark where my dad was waiting. Looking back, there was no way I should have gone home but I had never been so grateful to be back with my family.

My son Jasper was born on the 11th November 2020 during lockdown 2. We found out during the first lockdown I was pregnant and during that time my husband was unable to come to any appointments with me until Jasper was induced.

The most difficult part for me, however, has been hearing other mums talking about their children not settling in other peoples homes. Jasper has never visited anyone else’s house. Our family live in Bradford and have entered various tiers at points and have been unable to visit, meaning most of our family haven’t met him and those that have, have only seen him for a short period of time.

I worry as he hasn’t met many people and those that he has have been either workmen or people wearing masks from a distance.

Without another local mum met on a Zoom antenatal class I would have struggled. I even asked her to break rules and hold my baby as I was becoming so anxious he wouldn’t know how to react and both of us would suffer with separation anxiety.

Thankfully he was fine, has been as good as gold and has even begun smiling at people in the bank and supermarket when we visit.

I have felt extremely let down by healthcare visitors and my son has only been weighed once since being discharged by the midwives. I appreciate it is a scary time for them too but surely it would be reassuring for the odd visit or virtual appointment?

As things start to open, even simple things like preparing food, nappy bag have become such big things as we haven’t needed to or learnt on the go!
It’s a brave new world!

I had my beautiful little girl in April 2020. When I found out I was pregnant I was over the moon.
I had everything planned out but then lockdown happened and my plans went down the hill.
My waters broke and I had to go in. I was all on my own as wasn’t allowed anyone with me til I was giving birth.
Kept shouting I’m in labour but got told I’m not and not to push. I was left until 9cm dilated and they called my mum to come to the hospital.
A lot of pushing baby, getting distressed, ending up back to back I had to have an emergency c-section.
She arrived 32 hours from when my waters had broke at 1.54am.
My mum then had to leave again as Covid rules. No help in the ward trying to get up for the milk. I couldn’t breastfeed.
Kicked out of hospital the same day at 5pm even after a C-section. No help to carry my baby down the stairs. Couldn’t register her until 3 months as office closed due to Covid.
No health vistors contacted us. I kept phoning. No one came until her 1st year check. We were left on our own. A single mother with a baby with serve acid-reflux.
I just found out she was a GBS baby. No treatment given even though has a risk of infection. Kicked out less then 24hours after giving birth, left on our own with no checks for her GBS. Luckily I had my mum’s support.
Still no help and no groups available to attend.
I wish the NHS had given my daughter correct treatment. Regular health vistor calls would have been nice. Also having my mum with me.

I have three children. The youngest was born during January lockdown 2021.

I found out I was pregnant during the first lockdown. I wasn’t worried about coronavirus because I assumed by 2021 it would be a thing of the past but it became increasingly clear that Covid19 was going nowhere. The toddler groups wouldn’t be restarting. It felt daunting and lonely preparing for a baby without that support network.

I’m relieved that support bubbles were extended for families with children under one. We would have struggled to cope with the new baby without support from my parents.

Due to previous birth trauma, and not wanting to contract Covid-19 at hospital, I chose to have a homebirth. I was very determined and did my own research because I had a C-section previously. My consultant was against a homebirth but my community midwife was so supportive.

Trust policy was to have fewer midwife appointments. However, my midwife still saw me regularly because she knew I was struggling and needed support. I feel so lucky to have had such amazing continuity of care – but really that should be the norm not ‘luck’!

My previous labours had been 28 and 18 hours. This labour was less than three hours from the start of my contractions to baby in my arms! The midwives didn’t make it until after he was born. Being able to trust my body to birth my baby safely was the most empowering experience.

My baby was born with a tongue tie, latching him on was painful. The NHS service was closed due to Covid19. I paid privately for it to be assessed and snipped. It’s lucky I could afford this – and that I had enough breastfeeding experience to know there was a problem early on and to seek help.

On Easter Monday 2020, whilst getting to grips with the ‘new way of life’ at the beginning of the pandemic, we celebrated the good news. We had been trying for a 2nd child for over a year so there was an element of relief alongside the obvious joy.

The months went by and the distraction of Covid seemed to make time fly past. My husband was not able to attend the 12-week scan but was able to attend the 20-week scan

Part of the protocol during the pandemic was to have a Covid test pre entering the hospital. This test was done on Friday 11th with expected results in 24 hours.

4pm on Sunday 13th, a text message was received advising that the test had came back inconclusive. A follow up ‘samba’ test (results in 2 hours) was quickly arranged but no results came that Sunday.

I then received a text message on Monday 14th @6:30am to advise that I had tested positive for Covid. What did this mean for our planned C-section later that day? Were we going to have to isolate for 10 days? What was the impact on the baby continuing that extra time?

Thankfully, on that day no other planned C-sections were booked in, so they were able to isolate us in one of the maternity rooms. My husband was able to attend but under strict instructions not to leave the room and wouldn’t be able to accompany me in the delivery suite. The staff at the hospital did themselves proud, were very understanding, accommodating and once we were in the hospital we felt more at ease. At 10:36 on Sunday 14th December, our baby boy was born.

I was 40 years old when I discovered that I was pregnant with my son, Thomas, in October 2019. I had just started a new job and it took me by complete surprise. My baby was not due until June 2020 but on Friday 13th of March, my waters broke suddenly, and I rushed to hospital. I was 26 weeks pregnant. This happened right at the beginning of the pandemic in the UK. I was kept in hospital for several days to be monitored and during that time I was following the BBC news about the Coronavirus but trying to remain calm. Unfortunately, my health deteriorated on the fifth day and the doctors decided to deliver Thomas by emergency caesarean section. I had planned for a natural birth and was heartbroken that I did not have the experience I wanted. My fiancé, Ian, sat by my bedside the whole time and held my hand. I was grateful for the emotional support as I was so worried about my baby. Thomas was born on the 18th of March 2020 at one minute past 11pm. The surgeons did not raise Thomas above the screen, so I did not see him at first. He needed oxygen so he was placed in an incubator taken to the neonatal ward. When I finally saw him, he was tiny and covered in wires. I could not see his face properly. I was in shock and was still coming to terms with becoming a mother 13 weeks early. Thomas was in hospital for 4 months, and I visited him every day. It was lonely in the hospital. Due to the Covid restrictions, we had to practice social distancing. Ian and I were not allowed to be on the ward at the same time.

I gave birth to my son on 1st August 2020. I had an episiotomy. During my time in the hospital, my husband was only allowed in from 2 pm to 7 pm. My son wasn’t latching well so I would hand express colostrum into a syringe for an hour, then try feeding for an hour and finally give in to feeding formula. By the time he was done burping, it was time for me to express again.

All this continued when I came back home. There was no one apart from my husband to help out. All our family is in India and no one could travel because of Covid. My stitches opened at Day 10 after birth. We waited in a fanless corridor of the hospital for 4.5 hours on one of the hottest days before I was called in.

After a few days, I got a boil close to my stitches. Since then, I have gone through a surgery, 2 MRIs and an endoscopy. It has been almost 8 months and it will take me another couple of months to be somewhat back on my feet. Covid meant all my appointments were delayed. All this should have taken 2 months or so. Our families haven’t met my son yet. Just on Skype.

We were planning to buy a house but my husband has been on and off work as he needs to take care of my son when I’m on bed rest and to accommodate my hospital appointments. The work breaks and my maternity leave has meant our mortgage ability has been hit hard. I’m not sure when we will be able to buy a property now.

I somehow find the strength to always keep a smile on for my son. He is a happy baby. Absolute delight!