Giving birth during Level 4

You. Are. In. Safe. Hands.

Remember that the midwives and medical team are there for you and your baby.

Sounds so obvious, right? But under stress, and these strange conditions, we often fear the unknown.

It’s an especially important message this week, but I’ve spoken to a number of my clients who have experienced giving birth under Level 4 in the previous lockdowns. Here is what they had to say.

Will I be safe?

Yes. The biggest worry is having a support person there with you, so you are not alone. Please know that your birthing team is highly trained and are there for you, so try not to worry that you won’t have the support you need.

Are there any restrictions?

The key to understanding if a support person can be there is knowing the restrictions ahead of time of who can go into the birthing room with you.

It may be good to have two people on standby just in case your main support person becomes ill, or has to self isolate, and can no longer come in with you.

The experience has been that your support person may only be able to be there for the birth itself and then may need to leave. They may also be able to stay for the entire time, however, if they leave then they will not be able to come back. If you are due for a c-section – most new mothers reported that you can have your support person in theatre with you and for 2-4 hours post-op, but they were not allowed on the ward with them.

Plan ahead of time. How long do you want to stay in and importantly what you will need for yourself and your baby over this time? There is no option to pop home to get something, or even down to the car to get your baby’s car seat. Take everything you think you will possibly need.

On a more positive note, visitors are non-existent so it gives you some really special time for bonding. Try to see the positives of this time, which will make you relaxed and calm.

What happens post birth?

Some new mothers have relished the fact that there is no possibility of visitors whilst they are adjusting to their new life. Others struggled with isolation – not having any family support, no friends visiting or meeting the new baby.

They suggest doing really simple things – “Getting up, having a shower, going for walks (if appropriate)”.

“Mum made me frozen meals for the first few weeks, I started feeling a little more human by then and cooked simple things”. Having meals prepped before you go in will help. This is especially true if your newborn isn’t too keen on letting you sleep! On that – if you do need to seek out any help or advice, I have a very good friend Emma from The Baby Sleep Consultant – join her page on facebook or insta.

Can my midwife visit me?

It depends on your midwife. There is no set schedule under Lockdown and each family is assessed based on their needs. You can also request not to have your midwife in your bubble.

Your midwife will continue to be available by phone or zoom 24/7.

Under Level 4, it isn’t straight black and white whether your midwife will visit you or not. Some babies are small and may have minimal weight gain and need more visits. Some babies plonk the weight on and mums and babies do really well, so these mums typically will have phone/video calls.

  • At one week old, the baby should get a full check and then again at discharge.
  • If you need more visits, or struggling with breastfeeding, your midwife is able to visit.

It really depends on how you are coping, most women are going great and a daily chat on the phone is all they need. Having good family support is the preference and that is what is really lacking in most families. Lockdown or not”.

When can I visit Plunket?

Unless the baby is deemed high risk, Plunket visits do not happen until Level 2. You are able to call PlunketLine 24/7 on 0800 933 922

How can look out for my mental health?

Post Natal Depression is very real, especially when we find ourselves alone, isolated with minimal support. It can occur four weeks after you have had your baby. Your midwife is trained to screen for this and will refer you when necessary.

You may experience immense biological, emotional, financial, and social changes during this time.

Two apps both our midwives recommend downloading during pregnancy are – Smiling App (formerly Mind the Bump) and Mind Pal to self check your own mental health.

As well as the usual symptoms of depression, you can also feel:

  • Sluggishness, fatigue
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Difficulty sleeping/sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating/confusion
  • Crying for “no reason”
  • Lack of interest in the baby, not feeling bonded to the baby, or feeling very anxious about the baby
  • Feelings of being a bad mother
  • Fear of harming the baby or oneself
  • A loss of interest or pleasure in life

If you or anyone in your bubble recognises these symptoms, please contact your local GP for an online consultation. You will get help and will be well-supported.

Anj Young is the Owner & Principal Osteopath of Top Notch Bodyworks. Anj has a Bachelor in Health Science and Masters of Osteopathy. And leads a team of 12 therapists in their goal of maximising quality of life through evidence-based massage, osteopathy and holistic customer-centric connections.

Anj was involved with a multitude of sports and recreation events before training as a Physical Training Instructor in 2007. She completed an Assistant Physical Training Instructors, Primary Training Instructors course (Group Fitness Instructor Level 3) and an Advanced Fitness Instructors Course (Fitness Exercise Consultant Level 3 and Community Recreation Level 3) during a 13-year tenure with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

Her passion lies in exploring the complexity of psychology and pain management as a qualified Osteopathy practitioner.

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