Newborns in lockdown - coronavirus sees some UK mums preparing for births and raising their babies aloneRecord ID: 1469574
- Title: Newborns in lockdown - coronavirus sees some UK mums preparing for births and raising their babies alone
- Date: 13th April 2020
- Summary: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) PREGNANT TEACHER, STEPHANIE BOWERS, SAYING: "So, yeah, at the moment the midwife appointment is the only social interaction that I'm having. You know, we're not going anywhere. We're not seeing anyone. We're organising our food shopping so that it's delivered." MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (APRIL 9, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF BOWERS AND HER HUSBAND IN THEIR KITCHEN MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) PREGNANT TEACHER, STEPHANIE BOWERS, SAYING: "The birth will go how the birth goes and I've got no control of that, but my husband will be a constant... And yeah about three, four weeks ago, that was something that I kind of couldn't get my head around, but now as time has passed and things have got more serious, I think you have to make a contingency plan." MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (APRIL 9, 2020) (REUTERS) BOWERS WATERING PLANTS MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) PREGNANT TEACHER, STEPHANIE BOWERS, SAYING: "So things that me and my husband have been talking about already include recording his voice, kind of reading some of the positive affirmations that I've been looking at - hypnobirthing, breathing exercises and arranging music playlists."
- Keywords: COVID-19 Coronavirus National Childbirth Trust babies births epidemic lockdown mothers outbreak pandemic pregnancy
- Reuters ID: LVA008C9GP6BR
- Location: LONDON, ANDOVER, MANCHESTER, AND BASILDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: LONDON, ANDOVER, MANCHESTER, AND BASILDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Duration: 00:01:13
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: Kimberley Hutton went to hospital to have a baby in the middle of March, stayed for a week, and returned to a world completely changed.
Britain had entered lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus, meaning that people could only leave their homes for essential purposes, and the 26-year-old single mum was left to raise her newborn son entirely on her own.
"We left and there were no cars on the road, there was no one walking on the street, it was really really bizarre," she said.
"It's been really hard," she told Reuters. "I haven't had people to be there physically for me, to show me how to do things. I've had no experience in my life looking after or handling a newborn baby, let alone being responsible for one. I am very lonely."
As the virus sweeps the country, the lockdown has changed all aspects of Britons' lives, with social distancing enforceable and hospitals pushed to the brink as they run short of vital equipment.
New mothers in Britain are usually assigned a health visitor, who helps with the early stages of looking after a baby, but Hutton says this has been replaced by phone calls, meaning that no one can show her how to hold her son or feed him the right way.
Although the World Health Organization says pregnant women are not thought to be more at risk from COVID-19, the British government has put them in a category of people at increased risk, alongside the over-70s, meaning that they are advised to isolate themselves.
Everybody is anxious and uncertain at the moment, and pregnancy is often the time when people feel anxious and uncertain and vulnerable," says Val Wilcox, a practice manager for the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), which provides group parenting lessons for expectant parents.
"So you add those two things together and you are getting quite high levels of anxiety. With pregnant women it's often around 'am I going to be able to have my partner with me when I give birth?'"
In compliance with the social distances rules of the nationwide lockdown, the NCT has had to move its antenatal classes online, with parents making use of the whatever they have to hand, practising putting nappies on cuddly toys for example.
But Wilcox thinks the social interaction and group learning are vital.
"We were absolutely determined to make sure that we could continue supporting parents... hopefully when we're able to meet up, parents will be able to meet in person"
Currently, birthing partners are allowed to be present during the birth itself, but there are coronavirus-imposed restrictions on some wards where women stay before and afterwards, meaning that fathers may miss out on the first hours of their child's life.
Many pregnant women are also preparing themselves for the fact that even this may change should they or their partners contract the disease, or their hospital change the policy on birthing partners.
Stephanie Bowers is eight months pregnant and worried that she won't be able to have her husband with her during the birth.
"As time has passed and things have got more serious, I think you have to make a contingency plan," Bowers said.
But in a time when everything from meetings and classrooms to birthday parties and pub quizzes are taking place over video call, even preparation for childbirth can be done virtually.
Her husband has made playlists for her and recorded himself saying encouraging things in case he is not allowed to accompany her in person.
Hutton has also gone online to help fight feelings of isolation, curating an Instagram page of her son's first moments for friends and family.
She also keeps a check on any feelings of inadequacy, telling herself instead: "I am strong, I can do this."
(Production: Natalie Thomas)
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