This week’s guest post is written by Nick of @2_mindstogether. He talks about the experience of becoming a father for the second time during a national lockdown.
Having experienced both a lockdown and non-lockdown birth (3 years apart) you may be reassured to learn that these life-changing events weren’t that dissimilar.
Here’s our story, along with some top tips of how to cope with and support your partner giving birth during a lockdown.
Let’s face it…2020 was not the year we all thought it would be.
For me, 2020 was a huge year with the birth of my 2nd child. I wasn’t going to let the distraction of COVID come in my way but if I’m being honest, it was an extra thing to stress about.
It all began when the country (UK) went into a lockdown on 23rd March.
It was announced that all pregnant women in their 3rd trimester MUST stay at home and isolate until the birth.
The Government and top scientists were still unsure as to what harm COVID could cause an unborn child.
This was a strange feeling for me because all of a sudden, I felt an overwhelming responsibility to look after the household, even more so than usual.
It was down to me to do all the food shops and battle with the huge queues of people fighting their way into the store to secure the last remaining toilet rolls or pasta!
HANDY TIPS FOR THE LEAD UP TO THE BIRTH
• Prepare well!
I can’t stress this one enough because when the baby is here you will realise how little time you have.
So, get planning those post-baby evening meals and batch cook in advance.
We did this and it worked a treat. It meant that there was one less thing to think about whilst adjusting to fatherhood!
Not only does this save money, but it also meant that the “Dad Bod” won’t appear from endless takeaways.
• Be adaptable.
This is paramount in the lead up to the birth.
It could be as simple as doing additional tasks/chores in the house when your partner falls asleep on the sofa at 7 pm!
Yes, this is necessary to keep the house running smoothly (Us men also need to remember that our partners are growing a little human after all!)
• Keep calm.
I feel my most valuable bit of advice comes last; always remain calm in every situation.
Being pregnant is such a mix of emotions both positive and negative and in moments of panic or worry, a calming voice will always shine through. Sometimes all she will need you to say is “everything is going to be ok”.
Throughout the pregnancy, I was lucky enough to attend the baby scans (pre-lockdown), but I’m aware that many Dads are missing out on these special moments.
Scans are such an important part of the journey to meeting your newborn.
It’s like a jigsaw and you’re slowly piecing together the amazing gift you’re about to discover and being able to share these moments with your partner is so important.
During our pregnancy, I wasn’t to attend the midwife appointments which was a real shame because these are the only times she was in contact with a professional supporting her.
HANDY TIPS FOR APPOINTMENTS (OR LACK OF)
Ask your partner how the appointment went and what was discussed, and listen to any concerns your partner has.
For me, it was about trying to be the most supportive I could.
It also allows your partner to talk through and process the information given to them clearly.
• Expect the unexpected
Secondly, during a lockdown, you need to plan for the worst-case scenario.
What if you tested positive for COVID-19 days before the birth? Can you really afford to run the risk of catching the virus by going out for non-essential activities?
Make sure you self-isolate for two weeks before the due date.
This is easier said than done and requires planning ahead for things such as food etc., but if done correctly and safely it should guarantee your presence at the birth.
The big day came and, surprisingly, I felt relaxed knowing that we would be meeting our new arrival.
I’m one of those people who likes to plan ahead and know exactly what the day entails. However, this completely changed when we arrived as the Delivery Suite was already full (at 8 am)!
They placed Lucy temporarily on a ward but no birth partners were allowed due to COVID.
This meant that we had to go our separate ways and I was told I would be informed when the section was going to happen.
I found this strange moment, but at least I didn’t have to witness Lucy’s cannula being fitted after several failed attempts (it sounded like the most traumatic bit)!
HANDY TIPS FOR HOSPITAL
• Be brave!
I had to remain strong for Lucy and put aside my phobia of needles in the prep for her c-section (epidural).
I don’t think she would have appreciated it if I had fainted and ended up on the floor!
• Take snacks.
It’s hard work sitting around all day!
• Keep positive.
Your partner is bound to be her most anxious and be asking lots of “what if” questions.
• Stay strong.
You need to remain as adaptable to the environment as possible, which takes mental strength. Hospitals are busy places and emergencies can occur at any point…so be prepared to wait your turn!
• Take a charger!
You’ll be inundated with messages and will want to update certain people on progress, but you’ll probably want to watch or listen to something; you never know how long your wait will be.
Everything went well and our little boy had arrived in the world.
The major difference this time around was the limited time I was allowed with our baby and Lucy post-birth.
The two hours flew by and being told to leave by staff felt harsh and unnatural, but at the same time acceptance of the pandemic we were involved in soon took over.
Leaving the hospital that afternoon was strange.
Luckily, I was coming home to my 2-year-old and I was so excited to share the good news and tell him about his little brother.
It felt hard leaving Lucy, but I was confident that she’d be absolutely fine having done this all before.
I was obviously in the fortunate position to not be a first-time Dad, so I can only imagine how strange it would feel leaving your partner and first baby hours after becoming a father.
HANDY TIPS FOR POST BIRTH
• Get stuck in
Taking an active role is important, especially when changing that first “tar” like nappy!
• Look after your partner
She’s bound to be shattered after going through so much, so be there for her and give her lots of reassurance.
• Take plenty of photos
Capture the memories, especially videos; then you’ll be able to look through when you’re back home and everything isn’t such a blur.
The simple fact is that there is no blueprint as to how to parent.
Although we have been “winging it” from day one (and continue to do so now), it’s always good to seek guidance and support from others in those early weeks to reaffirm that you’re doing a good job.
In a lockdown, however, this can be tricky.
It was hard for us having limited contact with family and friends as they offer advice and support when it’s most needed.
Fortunately for us, we did feel lucky that this was our second child as it helped us to feel a little more confident.
All I would say is use the extra time that you have to get routines nailed, build confidence as a Dad and develop your relationship with your child.