Having your baby at RVH during COVID-19
I am writing this blog post, during a crazy time in the world. During a global situation that has never happened before. We are all still adjusting to life. To the fast changes. And to adapting to isolating at home.
Pregnant mummies, if you are reading this, I'm sure the fear and worry is quite real when you are thinking of having a baby in a hospital, where there are so many sick people with symptoms of the virus.
You are going ahead and attending your check-ups and appointments, as instructed, by your midwife, and going alone.
I honestly can't imagine what it is like to walk a hall in the hospital or maternity ward, when you go to find out if all is well with your first baby. You are sitting in the hallway, waiting to be called, distancing yourself from the person next to you. Or you are looking around you, thinking if your partner is worrying about you while he sits in the car or outside getting fresh air.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Many women have birthed during crazy and uncertain times. During the war, when families were evacuated from their homes, or moved into the countryside to be safer. Or going back even further - when tribes were growing and moving from time to time, women supported women during pregnancy and birth; some even birthed on their own.
What we are experiencing is unlike anything else that the world has ever seen, BUT how to give birth has not changed. The unconditional support that is available to you has not changed. The way your body knows itself before, during and after labour has not changed. I want you to remember that.
Right now, RVH is:
- asking all previous scans and appointments to be attended and continue to attend further appointments when offered, as well as emphasising that support is there if a mother is concerned for her or her baby's wellbeing, or changes in baby's usual pattern movements;
- asking women to attend to scans and appointments on their own (except in exceptional circumstances), with a partner or friend nearby for support in case they need it. During fetal medicine appointments, a woman and her partner may continue to attend appointments together;
- allowing one birth partner to attend (including caesareans), as long as they aren't suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19, in which case a reserved birth partner is encouraged in case the first birth partner is not up to it;
- continuing ABC (Active Birth Care) midwife-led service and continuing to support home births (these services will only be withdrawn if absolutely necessary);
- temporarily stopping visiting to the maternity ward, except in exceptional circumstances, and allowing only the parents/carers into neonatal ICU (one parent/carer in special baby unit) with continued breastfeeding support from the neonatal team;
- asking that if mothers are waiting on a call back, to look out for an unknown or withheld number calling as this could be a member of staff;
- reassuring that their staff will be well-equipped with personal protective equipment at all births.
Further details can be found on a newly dedicated website here.
This post is to bring some joy and light to having a baby, during COVID-19, at one of Northern Ireland's busiest hospitals for births right now - the Royal Victoria Hospital.
This is the Birth Story of Astrid.
When I met Colette, she was my second ‘birth subject’, as part of my University Degree final project back in 2015. Colette invited me to her house, in Belfast, and we discussed her birth plan, including the water pool, home birth she had planned and decided upon with her second child. She had created positive affirmations to hang around her home, and showed me the hand-knit tie she purchased from SUPPLIER, instead of using clamps around the cord.
We hit it off so fast, as did her partner, Ron, little fella Lucca and her collie, Cookie – as Colette says, “There was a mutual love affair between Rebekah and my dog!” and that goes without saying, Cookie was then and still is such a loving and much-loved pet, and part of the family. Connecting with each other is so important when choosing a birth photographer (or even a portrait photographer) to document such a private, intimate and personal part of your life – in fact, life-changing, you need to ‘click’ to make it work!
After that, I was on-call. Constantly checking my phone, getting on with my daily life. Colette let me know about any appointments she had coming up and kept me updated.
THEN...around 6:30am...my phone rang.
“Rebekah, Colette is in labour, so we are calling for the midwives to come as well”
I literally jumped out of bed, throw my clothes on, grabbed my gear and headed for Belfast. I grabbed a bite to eat on my way there, as I wasn’t sure how long I would be at this birth.
I arrived, and Colette was using the pregnancy ball to circling her hips, and promoting movement around the pelvis area. Lucca was awake, and asked his mummy for some breakfast, so as Colette worked through each contraction, she made Lucca some toast and sat with him while he ate it.
The midwives arrived, and the monitoring began. Contractions were steady at this point, the birth pool wasn’t ready and Colette begin using the gas and air, leaning against walls pushing through each surge, and using her positive affirmations that she had memorised leading up to this moment.
Fast forward a few hours, the midwives kept an eye on Colette as she moved around her home to find a comfortable place - from her livingroom to her bedroom - but the gas and air was running low, so after a quick discussion, both mum, dad and midwives agreed to get transferred to the Royal Hospital, in Belfast, just to be on the safe side.
The ambulance arrived, Colette’s labour was progressing and everyone grabbed the bags and went! I went in the car, felt like a lifetime getting to the hospital (even though it was only down the road) and got into the Midwifery-Led Unit after lunch time. Colette got settled in, while I introduced myself to the ward midwives.
Colette was ready for me to come back into the room, and she was in the pool. She breathed through each surge that was bringing her closer to having her little one.
Colette had known a previous midwife, whom she adored – Margaret Rogan – and asked for her. Not long after, things got a little overwhelming for Colette, Margaret finished up helping another mummy in need, and everyone was asked to leave the room, but Margaret.
For anyone that knows Margaret, she has a real connection with mums, not just in the level a midwife or any health professional should have, but an even deeper connection. She listens and understands the mother and her requests, and flows with the mum and her needs.
Shortly after everyone left the room, Colette was ready for the other midwives and myself to come back in again.
But this time, for real.
Within the next hour, Colette’s final contractions, in the birth pool, where immense and felt within the whole room. One of the midwives called me over, told me to stand in a specific spot JUST to capture the quick crowning and mummy catching baby, as she was pulled out of the water.
Baby Astrid Margaret Tamborini was born. She was a beautiful, wide-eyed baby girl and both parents were very blessed to have her already.
As you can imagine, and as I’m sure other mummies can resonate, Colette was full of love for her brand new baby girl. She actually burst into tears with joy, after having had a Caesarean birth with her first child, she now had her VBAC. She still had her birth pool. And she had one of the most amazing midwifery teams in the Maternity Ward, in the Royal Hospital, looking after her.
That’s when I knew my time with the family had come to an end. Both parents needed those precious first hours with their little girl, and celebrating this new life.
Since meeting Colette, we have become great friends. Both Lucca and Astrid are very adventurous kids and Colette gives her all (and more!) to make them feel happy and loved.
Here are a few words that she shared with me:
“Having met Rebekah in a professional capacity during my second pregnancy, I knew she was the one to document my VBAC. Having her at the birth of my second child turned out to be so much more than I could have hoped for. Not only did she give me priceless memories, she contributed to the positive energy in the room. She instinctively knew where to be and when to be there; she was an invisible comfort blanket, and I'll forever be indebted to her. The images themselves are perfection. She's shown me blissful moments I was unaware of, and allowed me to form a timeline of events from the latter stages of pregnancy, labour and birth. The images fill in the blanks beautifully. This birth changed my life in so many amazing ways, and having the beautiful woman there was the icing on the cake. Rebekah is respectful, nurturing, warm, accepting, and doesn't take anything to heart (which is handy when you're in transition!). She's one in a million, and her images are a thing of beauty. I can't imagine having another baby without her there. Thank you a thousand times, Rebekah, we love you in our house!”