In this series, we share stories from different mums and dads-to-be about their experience of pregnancy, birth and parenthood in the pandemic. Here Tinuke shares what it was like having her second baby at the peak of the pandemic and her tips for other mums with two little ones at home right now.
This time round my pregnancy was low risk. I kept a close eye on my blood pressure because of the late diagnosis of pre-eclampsia during my first pregnancy with my son.
It was a normal pregnancy until the end when I became bed-bound by severe pelvic girdle and back pain. I had emergency physio when I was seven months pregnant. I’m glad that this time I spoke up about how I was feeling. I didn’t take no for an answer until I got the support I really needed. [Tinuke is the co-founder of the Five X more campaign that’s raising awareness of maternal disparities for black women in the UK. They recommend six steps for black women during pregnancy including speaking up and trusting your gut feeling if you feel like something isn’t right and making sure you speak to a medical professional.]
Staying calm at a stressful time
I tried my best to stay calm but things did get stressful in my third trimester, as the pandemic became more serious. I started working from home and many of my maternity appointments were cancelled.
My plans for a home birth were also cancelled and my mum got stuck in Nigeria after travelling there to attend her sister’s funeral.
"I started to feel anxious and overwhelmed."
A positive birth
I was devastated about not being able to have a home birth. I was also worried about going into hospital in April – the peak of the pandemic. I decided that when I did start to go into labour, I would try and stay at home for as long as possible.
When my contractions started at 10.30pm, I started timing them. I managed to stay home until around 3am. When I went into hospital, I was checked over and they said that even though I was only 4cm, they would let me stay. I got into a birthing pool at 4am and my daughter was born at 6.30am.
During my birth, all the staff were respectful and wore PPE. The two main midwives with me tried their best to socially distance.
"It was such a good experience and I felt more in tune with my body. The midwife was encouraging and helped me listen to my body."
My daughter did a poo during labour so we were kept in for observation for 12 hours. I was overwhelmed - in a good way – about the birth. We didn’t know we were having a girl so that was exciting.
"I was just so happy to have a good birth this time."
Challenging early days
"The first few weeks were stressful. I was so tired. I was scared of how I was going to manage it all. Lockdown was hard - dividing my time between two children."
It was difficult keeping my son entertained – he wanted to be out and his sleeping pattern got worse. I felt I couldn’t spend enough time with him. There was no nursery for him and no friends and family to help.
I had to have my daughter’s naming ceremony by zoom. I felt something was missing not seeing my family. And it was hard not having support because everywhere was closed.
I did find ways to get through it all. Most importantly, I would say to any new mum or pregnant woman - remember that there is help out there if you need it – from finances to mental health. Never feel like you’re alone.
Tinuke’s top tips for new mums
- Wake up early and shower - it can make a difference.
- Get out the house once a day if you can. Getting some fresh air was good for us.
- I worked in batches so it wasn’t too much – 10/20 minute short bursts when I could. I then spent time playing or reading with the kids.
- Follow positive social media accounts. Social media has been a good way to escape for me and make new friends. It can help you feel part of a community. But take regular breaks away from social media too if you need to.
- Don’t feel like you’re on your own - help is out there if you need it.
Follow Tinuke on Instagram @mumsandtea to learn more about her parenting journey.
If you'd like to share your story of pregnancy, birth or parenting in the pandemic, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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Read the NHS stay at home advice.
The NHS website has a specific pregnancy and coronavirus page, which has all the latest information and guidance about support services.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have produced information on coronavirus for pregnant women and their families.
The Department of Health and Social Care website is being updated daily with guidance and what the government is doing about the virus.
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