For pregnant mothers, COVID has brought additional challenges and no small measure of uncertainty.
Teams at the Princess Royal Maternity in Glasgow have been working hard with expectant women, finding new ways to engage over video and conference calls as restrictions meant fewer face-to-face appointments or attending alone, without family or friends.
This has a particular impact on women scheduled to have their babies by planned caesarean delivery. Before the pandemic, mums and their birthing partners could meet midwives, anaesthetists and physiotherapists in advance of the delivery, to improve both the experience and provide better outcomes for mum and baby. That all came to a grinding halt when the pandemic hit.
Siobhan Greenhalgh, Health Education Midwife, said: “It was really tough - this well established and successful class was unable to run and mums were left in challenging circumstances with little contact with the team. Coupled with this being a stressful time to be expecting, we were keen to find a way to reconnect and provide a safe forum for information to be shared and the opportunity for questions to be asked and fears allayed.”
They quickly embraced video calls as a way to connect, delivering weekly live classes, which allowed the team involved in a caesarean birth to explain what happens during their time in hospital and answer any questions mums and their loved ones might have.
Claire Bain, from Glasgow, was one of those who benefited. She was looking forward to the birth of her second child, Luna Mae, but the restrictions meant her husband and first child couldn’t attend for scans or in-person appointments, which she said was ‘unsettling and negative’ compared to her first pregnancy.
Claire was initially sceptical about the classes but added: “I would be lying if I did not initially think they may be a waste of time. However, I was very wrong. The sessions were extremely informative and the fact that my husband could join in on the call was even better. The simple fact that both of us were able to listen and take in the information and get more educated on what was going to be happening, was hugely valuable.”
A video walk-through of the process really helped Claire to visualise what to expect. She said: “Ultimately the presentation gave me a great sense of comfort as each team member explained their role within the process. The fact that the team also encouraged the expectant mothers to get our hair and nails done was something that gave me a little confidence boost - it may seem insignificant to some but being able to have those things made me feel better and more in control.”
On 15 June, Luna Mae was born at 5.18pm, weighing in at 7lbs 3oz.
Dr Juliana Sisk, a Consultant anaesthetist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said that the success of the video sessions means that they will continue after the pandemic recedes. She added: “It has been really well received and we have even had partners log in from work whilst mum is at home, thereby making it as inclusive and hassle free as possible. It has a light, informal but informative atmosphere, all children, partners and pets welcome!”
Claire, who is a professional singer/songwriter and working mum in band Raintown, thanked the team for their outstanding care.
“My recovery this time has been much quicker, and I feel like this is due to being mentally and physically prepared for my elective section,” she added.
“That was in no small way due to the support from the PRM. I will be forever grateful to all of the team for making this memory a positive one for me and my family.”
Pictured: Baby Luna Mae in her mother's arms.