Are you pregnant or do you have a baby under 12 months? A new free pregnancy and antenatal digital support service funded by the NHS has just been launched!
The first phase is a two week trial for participants living in England. If successful, the plan is to roll it out nationwide. This could be so helpful even when the covid-19 crisis is over!
Being at home with a new baby can feel isolating enough at times, but now that the usual group sessions in the form of baby and toddler groups and baby cafés aren’t an option, this could be a really important way for new and expectant parents to feel supported.
What will this free pregnancy and antenatal digital support service look like?
The plan is to provide you with expert support on life with a baby; feeding, sleep, mental health, and more. You’ll have access to one-to-one chat support with expert practitioners and you can ask a question at any time. There will also be small personalised group chats, access to video consultations with breastfeeding and child sleep consultants, and online exercise sessions (which they promise will be safe, fun and effective!).
If the support proves to be helpful, there is the potential for national roll out.
I think most people are a bit anxious right now. There’s a lot going on and a lot to get your head around. But if you’re pregnant, it must be especially worrying. Particularly if it’s your first and you already don’t know what to expect. Pregnancy and birth keeps you on your toes at the best of times, but birth in a time of Covid-19 comes with further considerations.
We’ve had a couple of recent births in the BigBirthas Facebook Group. With permission, here’s a birth story from someone who just did it four days ago! Hopefully this will give a bit of information and reassurance on what to expect if you’re nearing your due date:
Kay’s birth story
I gave birth to my little legend on Friday 27th March.
I was induced at 37+5 due to obstetric cholestasis. (OC is a liver condition which affects 1 in 140 pregnancies in the UK. It is characterised by excessive itchiness, often on the palms of your hands and/or soles of your feet. A bit of itchiness in pregnancy is normal, particularly on a stretching tummy, but always worth getting checked out. – Big Birtha)
He came at 38+1. They kept me in hospital due being high risk with OC and high BMI and the midwives were absolutely amazing. They really put my mind at rest. The consultant and the anaesthetist were pushing for a c-section because of my size, but I rejected and carried on. I knew that I could do it.
In the end I managed all but the last hour without any pain relief at all and the last hour I allowed myself some gas and air. He was born at 2.10am on the 27th weighing 7lbs 14oz and is perfect.
My advice to everyone is to not let them put time pressure on you. If you choose a c-section, that of course is your choice and I am fully supportive, but I am so glad I didn’t let them hound me into one. The ward they put me on (postnatal) I was the only one that had a natural birth. It was so hard watching everyone else struggle even picking up their newborns, whereas I was up and walking about straight away.
Birth in a time of Covid-19 – Kay’s experience
They are taking the upmost care due to current situations, and I am generally a bit of a worrier. If you’re like me don’t let it get you down, I cannot express how safe they made me feel!
The midwifes were only allowed in that section of the hospital. Birthing partners were limited to one and had to take their own food etc. Once they were on the ward they couldn’t leave and come back again. It’s reduced the risk and made everyone feel more comfortable. We all washed so much too, mums, dads, and staff.
All in all it was a very positive experience, even in the circumstances.
Good luck everyone, from one very happy mumma. 💜
Thanks for taking the time out to share that Kay, and congratulations!
Birth in a time of Covid-19 – highlights from the RCOG guidance
Generally, pregnant women do not appear to be more likely to be seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they develop the new coronavirus.
Based on the evidence we have so far, pregnant women are still no more likely to contract coronavirus than the general population.
What has driven the decisions made by officials to place pregnant women in the vulnerable category is caution.
It is expected the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.
If you think you may have symptoms of COVID-19 you should use the NHS 111 online service for information, or NHS 24 if in Scotland.
Our advice remains that if you feel your symptoms are worsening or if you are not getting better you should contact your maternity care team or use the NHS 111 online service / NHS 24 for further information and advice.
The most important thing to do is to follow government guidance [to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus].
It is really important that you continue to attend your scheduled routine care when you are well.
If you have any concerns, you will still be able to contact your maternity team but please note they may take longer to get back to you
Do you have an urge to listen to BigBirthas.co.uk founder Amber Marshall talk about high BMI birth for 50 minutes? Surely you’re keen to marvel at how much I waggle my hands around when I talk (because it’s a LOT)!? Well, I’m pleased to tell you your wait is over! I recently took part in a free online Birth Confidence Summit, organised by Birth Confidence Mentor and founder of BirthEssence.co.uk Charlotte Kanyi.
It’s a great idea and you can access all the talks for the bargain price of free!
I talk about why I set up the site, research, the difference between absolute and relative risk, looking positively at pregnancy vs the self-fulfilling prophecy, the media, blaming and scapegoating, and a bit about my two pregnancies and births and how I felt about them.
In my interview I discuss how our bodies are designed for making and birthing babies. That we’re no longer in the minority and therefore shouldn’t be treated as ‘exceptional’ or ‘problematic’, in fact, we should have the same options as anyone else! Yes, carers should monitor the risks and act accordingly, but until something negative arises (and odds are it won’t) we should stay positive! Do your research and don’t expect your doctor to know everything about your personal circumstances and what is best for you. You decide, and you can use the BRAIN acronym to help you ask the right questions.
The Birth Confidence Summit Speakers
It’s a formidable line-up! There are some great speakers here:
Long-acting reversible contraception or ‘LARC’ describes contraceptive methods that you don’t need to use every day. This includes the copper intrauterine device (also known as the ‘coil’), progestogen-only intrauterine system (also known as the ‘hormonal coil’), progestogen-only injectable contraceptives (‘depo’) and subdermal implants (‘implant’). I recently mentioned another group conducting research on provision of long acting contraceptives. Looks like it’s a hot topic this year!
LARC is popular as it’s a highly effective method of preventing pregnancy. For some people it can be a positive option, but there are concerns that some may experience pressure to use LARC, or may find it difficult to get removed. Researchers from Lancaster University, working with the British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS), are studying LARC in the UK.
If you’ve been encouraged to use LARC, are over 13 and living in the UK, the researchers would love to talk to you!
For more information, please read the attached documents: