The trials of having a baby in time of coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 May 2020

Accounts executive at Dagenham's Ford plant, Katy Ward, was admitted to Romford's Queen's Hospital for a C section at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Katy Ward

Accounts executive at Dagenham's Ford plant, Katy Ward, was admitted to Romford's Queen's Hospital for a C section at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Katy Ward

Katy Ward

A 34-year-old new mother from Dagenham, who gave birth in Romford’s Queen’s Hospital, describes the rollercoaster experience of giving birth at a time of coronavirus.

Katy gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Abbigale, on April 18. Picture: Katy WardKaty gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Abbigale, on April 18. Picture: Katy Ward

Just as the coronavirus pandemic was exploding into Britain in late March, Katy Ward’s pregnancy was coming to term.

The government was putting together guidelines on who most to protect and, being heavily pregnant, Katy was categorised as vulnerable.

Aside from the inconvenience of no longer being able to do the shopping or take exercise, Katy was also 13 days overdue, and had to take regular walks to help induce labour.

“It was very frustrating,” she said. “I was very overdue and the baby wasn’t coming naturally, so I became quite upset at the end of the pregnancy.

“Some midwives were still having appointments with me, some were masked and some weren’t.”

With still no sign of labour, she was forced to undergo procedures that kept her in hospital overnight. Without her husband, Stuart, being allowed to accompany her because of the virus, Katy became very anxious.

Eventually, after two failed attempts at inducing labour naturally, she was admitted to the only neonatal ward, as all the others were taken up with coronavirus patients.

Katy was pleasantly surprised at the number of neonatal staff available.

She said: “The hospital staff were really good; they were masked and had gloves and protection. The presence of midwives was also good and they didn’t seem too stretched. I was, however, very scared as my husband wasn’t present.

“I was also really worried about being in hospital as I knew there were wards just upstairs with coronavirus patients in them.”

Eventually, the pregnancy became high risk’and Katy had to have an emergency C-section.

Stuart was quickly summoned to join her for the birth of Abbigale.

But he was promptly told to leave afterwards, with Katy staying only 24 hours more after the surgery owing to the high risk of Covid-19 infection.

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Unfortunately, it wasn’t all plain sailing once home for Katy. Although she had seemingly escaped the virus, her C-section wound became infected.

She said: “I had to send pictures to the doctor to get some antibiotics prescribed; these then caused an allergic reaction and I had to get another lot prescribed over the phone.

“Everything felt like a guessing game. When I was phoning midwives sometimes they wouldn’t answer or call me back.”

“To be honest, I forgot about Covid-19 during some stages of the recovery because I was in so much pain, so I wasn’t following the whole washing my hands constantly.

“When I did think about it, though, it did worry me.”

Still without any home visits allowed, Katy was glued to the phone listening to advice from the hospital and midwives.

“We found this time very difficult due to the fact we had no one to support us, other than through phone calls,” Katy said,

“The baby wouldn’t breast feed and there wasn’t much that they could do to help over the phone.

“It was also hard not having any help groups open.”

She said that since May 4, the family has received no support in any form.

To make matters worse, husband Stuart, a self-employed sound engineer, lost all his work due to the pandemic.

The couple, however, did manage to do up a room just in time for the baby and Katy, who worked as an accounts executive at Dagenham’s Ford plant, has still been receiving her maternity pay.

“The silver lining is that my husband is around to bond with our daughter and support me, whereas he would have been on tour around the world,” Katy said.

“It has been really hard not having any family members here as this is my husband’s parents’ first grandchild.

“They live 250 miles away and only see the baby on FaceTime, when she is usually asleep.

“Their support would have been great for us in the first three weeks as we found this hard without any help and not getting much rest.”

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