I had a rollercoaster pregnancy from the start.

I was diagnosed with Hyperemisis Gravidarum at 6 weeks, which continued until I was 21 weeks. I was already having a hard time without the addition of Covid-19. I was hauled up in bed on lockdown as it wasn’t safe for me to go into work.

From week 22 things began to look up and I finally started to enjoy my pregnancy. We could meet friends and family in outside spaces and at week 29 we headed for a day trip at our local lake with some friends. I’d felt unusual that day but blamed the heat and pregnancy fatigue and carried on as normal.

In the evening I was conscious that the baby had been rather quiet and mentioned to my partner. He told me to call Maternity Unit to get checked, but I didn’t want to be a nuisance so I waited. A few hours passed and still nothing, so I finally agreed to call. I assured the midwives I was probably worried about nothing, but they promised I was no trouble and invited me in.

The team were amazing. They monitored our very happy baby for a while & I was allowed to go home, however, they had a feeling baby was in a awkward position, so arranged a scan in 3 days time.

It was Wednesday 8th July at midday. I entered the hospital for my scan with an appointment elsewhere an hour after, so I was ready to be in and out and carry on with my day. The sonographer asked my permission for a student to be present, which I agreed to. She began to scan and take measurements. When she started to remeasure, she reassured me it was just to make sure they were accurate. She advised the student that the baby was in an awkward position and it was best she didn’t have a turn for this scan.

She took new measurements using words I hadn’t heard in previous scans and then she told me. She said it looked as though my waters had broken. I was 29 weeks pregnant, my waters had broken and baby was breech. I felt like my world was falling apart. She spoke with the consultant and, unfortunately, as my baby was breech and very small I had to be admitted. I was told the first 24-48 hours were crucial as 90% of women will go into labour in that time, but by some miracle we made it through.

On day three of admission I met with my consultant who told me that I would be remaining an inpatient for five weeks. Those five weeks consisted of monitoring three times a day, or more if baby was quiet, observations for myself, steroid injections, blood thinning injections, scans (which revealed baby also had IUGR) & 1 visitor for a few hours a day.

The Covid Effect

Covid meant only my partner was allowed to visit me for a few hours each day. I spent five weeks alone the majority of the time, during the toughest time of my life. The staff on the ward are the only reason I made my way through. I gave up so many times, I felt like I couldn’t carry on through the loneliness and the heart wrenching feeling of failure to carry my baby safely to term. My mental health was impacted, but after what felt like a life time, I made it.

At 34 weeks pregnant on the 10th August 2020 at 10:30am I walked down to theatre, sat on the bed with my partner holding one hand and a midwife my other. Covid didn’t exist here.

She held my hand the whole time. She never left my side. Every step she talked me through and at 11:43am she dropped the drape as they held my screaming baby girl up for me to see. My partner trimmed her cord and got to meet his daughter before that same midwife brought her over and introduced me to her.

She was 6 weeks early, weighed 4lbs 3oz and was taken to special care, where she thrived and defied everybody’s expectations. After just nine days in SCBU and receiving a small amount of oxygen, phototherapy & establishing feeding our beautiful girl came home. 

Our baby girl is now 3 months old, weighing 9lbs 9oz and has the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. 

I’ve been waiting for the right time to share my story. To me, it's the most special story I've ever told, but it also carry’s an important message.

If I didn’t trust my gut feeling that something wasn’t quite right our story could have ended very differently. But between my instinct and the outstanding care I received, our story has a happen ending. 

Story from Charlotte Styles

What should you do if you notice a change in your baby's movements during the Covid-19 pandemic?

You should call your Maternity Unit immediately. They are there to care for you and your baby whenever you need. Don't forget:

  • Don't put off calling until tomorrow to see what happens.

  • Don't worry about calling - your midwives and doctors will want to hear from you. Your Maternity Unit is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so there will always be someone available to talk to.

  • Don't use any hand-held monitors, dopplers, or phone apps to check your baby’s heartbeat. Even if you detect a heartbeat, it doesn't mean your baby is well.

It's more important than ever that you don't arrive at the hospital unannounced, always phone first.

If there are any concerns about your baby you can be seen, regardless of whether you are showing symptoms of Covid-19. Ensure you mention if you are showing symptoms though, so steps can be taken to ensure the safety of those looking after you. 

Mama, you've got this.