Women who had been anxious about coming into hospital to have their babies during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak have spoken of the support and comfort they found in each other during challenging times.
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust has had to make some difficult decisions in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
In Maternity services they include only allowing one birthing partner to accompany a woman in labour and suspending visiting to postnatal wards.
These decisions have all been made to keep our staff, women and babies safe, but they are decisions that may be upsetting and worrying for families.
However three women have said coming into hospital during the pandemic has not been as bad as they thought it might have been – thanks to the support they received from each other and their midwives.
Jenna Mowbray, 31, from Colchester, had a routine growth scan at Colchester Hospital at 38 weeks and was kept in due to complications caused by preeclampsia. Her son Jack was born on 25 April.
She was on Lexden Ward which she said felt “daunting and lonely” as her family couldn’t be with her, but it was when she heard a woman crying in the bay next to her that she struck up a conversation.
Catherine Hooker had had twins by emergency Caesarean section on 22 April and at that point had not seen her babies as she had been under anaesthetic for the delivery. Newborns Chloe Rose and Jack Peter were taken straight to the hospital’s Neonatal Unit as they arrived six weeks early.
Jenna said: “When you’re here with your partner or family you get into your bubble and you’re not really trying to be sociable as you have someone to talk to and distract you, but this made us talk to each other.
“It’s really scary and hard for everyone, but I know it can’t be helped and the quality of care hasn’t been compromised at all. The midwives and staff are all still here for their ladies, nothing is too much trouble.”
Catherine, 36, from Colchester, said:
“It’s hard, but it has been lovely having the curtains open and talking. You don’t feel so alone because everyone is in the same boat.
“It was quite traumatic and I thought I had lost the babies, but the midwives were lovely and reassured me they were ok. It’s so hard when they are not with you, but they are doing so well.”
The pair were also joined by Nicole Reece, 37 from Harwich whose baby was overdue so she came into the hospital to be induced.
She said: “You come in on your own, but you’re just made to feel really welcome, at ease and comfortable.
“It’s so nerve wracking, but it’s been a much better experience than I thought it would be and it’s down to the people who have been in here and the midwives.
“This is where you need contact and you can’t even see their facial expressions because of the masks, but they are doing the best job they can.
“I’d just encourage other people to do the same thing we did – open the curtains and talk to each other when you can’t have visitors. You have to remember everyone is in the same situation.”
Jenna added: “We all supported each other, it was lovely. It was a breath of fresh air that came when we really needed it.”
A unique time for women and their babies
Louise Hawkins, ward sister on Lexden Ward, said the experiences shared by Jenna, Catherine and Nicole have been echoed around the ward during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
She said: “I have heard so much laughter from both staff and the women. All curtains are open around the beds and the women are enjoying each other’s company.
“There was one day when I barely heard one baby cry all day and hardly any call bells. The women are commenting on how much they are enjoying this special time alone with their baby, as well as making lifetime friends.
“I feel very fortunate in sharing these moments with my team and the women during such a strange time in all our lives.”
ESNEFT’s Director of Midwifery Anna Shasha said: “Our women have really bonded and really looked after each other.
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“I saw Jenna, Catherine and Nicole on the ward and they were so happy. It was absolutely lovely to see some positivity come out of what we know is a difficult time for pregnant women and their families.”