Our website manager Laurin is currently expecting her first child. Being five months along means Laurin has spent most of her pregnancy in lockdown. Although the NHS states there's no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus, they have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) as a precaution. Today on the Little Extras blog, we've caught up with Laurin to chat about her pregnancy journey so far, highlighting some of the differences between pre Covid-19 and current pregnancy experiences.
Welcome to Little Extras, Laurin - and congratulations! How far along were you when lockdown was announced? Did you feel anxious at the time about what this could mean for your pregnancy?
I was just approaching 9 weeks when lockdown was announced. I was relaxed at that point about the virus - I was probably a bit naive as to how widespread the virus was going to be. I think like a lot of other people, if we’d known how easily the virus could be transmitted, I wouldn’t have been happily commuting on trains every day back then.
Once we started to realise how serious the disease is, how did things change for you?
At first lockdown was a blessing, I was suffering terribly with nausea and couldn’t face moving or eating, I spent about 9 weeks sleeping a lot to avoid feeling sick. Not having to face the commute to work was great, and being able to eat whatever I fancied each day (rather than the 1 lunch option I’d taken to work) was also helpful. Obviously once this passed, I wanted to get out a bit more and started using my lunch breaks to take walks. I haven’t avoided the shops completely and queued like others for the supermarket on several occasions, but I have done this as little as possible and placed food orders online when there was availability.
Have you received any communication from your doctors/ support to guide you through Coronavirus and pregnancy?
I haven't received anything Coronavirus specific. I don’t feel like pregnant women have been classed as being vulnerable during the pandemic, unless you have other underlying conditions you’re just expected to stay in as much as possible like everyone else.
Have you ran into any difficulties you don’t think you would have experienced with your pregnancy under normal circumstances?
Announcing the pregnancy has be strange, again I didn’t realise how long lockdown was going to last at first! So, other than the relatives and close friends I had told in person before lockdown, I was holding off until I could meet up with people again to tell them, as messaging them the news seemed a little strange. Bus, as time went on, I almost felt I’d left it too long to tell people and decided that after my 20-week scan I would just have to let the remaining people know.
I have also struggled with starting to buy things for the baby, everything so far has been online purchases, which means I can't see or try the products before I decide to buy them. I’ve had to make high value purchases like the pushchair without really knowing what it’s like. Also, there was a certain element of guilt with every online purchase I made, as I knew delivery drivers were overrun with high volumes of parcels, so I was always trying to minimise the amount of orders I was making. As lockdown has gone on, lots of retailers have also sold out of newborn and 0-3 sized clothing! Luckily, I have time to wait, but I imagine the parents of babies born during the peak will have struggled to get what they’ve needed.
...Luckily, you also work for JoJo so we can see when the newborn stock is arriving!
If you had medical appointments during the peak, did these go ahead as planned? How were they different to a usual trip to the doctors?
I first referred myself to a hospital which I’ve only ever heard good things about; it’s slightly further away than my local hospital but it seemed worth travelling to, I had two appointments scheduled there.
The week lockdown was announced the hospital contacted me and cancelled both appointments and said they weren’t allowed to take any ‘out of area’ patients during this time, so I would have to re-refer to my local hospital. Not only was I going to have to go to a hospital I wasn’t keen on, I also had to wait for new appointments to be booked. The wait seemed like forever, and when I did get the new appointments, the first midwife 'appointment' was done on the phone - it was the booking appointment where they ask you loads of medical history etc. The call was fine, but sometimes difficult to understand them since they we’re on speakerphone and typing as I spoke to take all the notes down. I feel like I probably missed some information, hopefully nothing vital!
My second appointment was my 12-week scan, which ended up being at 14 weeks. This was of course in person and made up for any other appointments which I’d missed. I had the scan, a meeting with the midwife and lots of blood tests, weighing’s and my blood pressure done at the same time. I don’t remember the hospital feeling very different than on other occasions I’d been there, all the staff were wearing face masks and I had to declare that I didn’t have any virus symptoms upon entering, but I wasn’t asked to wear a mask. The seating area had been adapted so only every other chair could be sat on.
My most surreal appointment was at my doctors for the whooping cough vaccination, they only allowed one patient into the surgery at a time, so I waited outside until I was allowed in. They then opened the door for me, gave me a mask, whisked me into the room and had me out again before I could realise it was done. They then again opened all doors for me and cleaned them after, even though I'd had no contact with anything whilst I was in there.
I suppose however surreal, it's reassuring to know they're being extra safe! So, how have you been preparing for your new arrival at home? I imagine with all the time we’re spending indoors you’ve probably started “nesting” early!
I wish I’d done more than I have! We have a spare room which will become the baby’s nursery, but for the past 3 years it’s been my dressing room and dumping ground, and I really can’t face sorting it all out. I have started working out what things we’ll need and have been buying a few things online each month. I feel bad ordering so much stuff though, as I know the delivery people are busier than the Christmas period at the moment, so I’m trying to curb unnecessary buying. It would also be nice to go and see things in the shops before buying too, so I’m hoping I’ll get that chance.
Do you plan on having a virtual baby shower? Do you think it would be just as good as a normal one?
I’m not too fussed about a baby shower, especially a virtual one. We had one for a friend recently and it wasn’t the same atmosphere as it would have been if we’d all been together. It was nice though, each of the attendees hosted a baby related game for the others and we did the usual guess the gender, weight and hair colour of the baby. If lockdown has lifted more nearer my due date, I would have one last gathering with friends, just as it might be the last in a while, but if it doesn’t happen I won't be too upset.
You mentioned feeling pretty nauseous in your first trimester. Have you had any unusual cravings? Any tips for getting through morning sickness?
Nothing particularly unusual. During the morning sickness phase, which was always a lot worse by dinner time, I didn’t like mixing foods, one thing was enough. This was usually some form of potato, be it mashed, jacket, chips or roast potatoes, but I wouldn’t want anything with them! I don’t think I found anything that really helped with the morning sickness; perhaps Vitamin B6, but if it did help it wasn’t enough. People kept telling me to eat dried crackers and ginger biscuits, but all food (including these) made me feel bad. I only felt well for the few hours in the morning when I hadn’t eaten, as soon as I tried something that was it for the day, I needed to sleep it off.
What’s the one thing that’s surprised you the most about pregnancy?
I think I massively underestimated the morning sickness. I wasn’t expecting it to get me so down, but I was emotional and really regretted getting pregnant as I didn’t know how I was going to make it through. I cracked and told a few people at work as I couldn’t concentrate and just wanted to cry. Everyone kept saying it only lasts until 12 weeks, and when you’re only 6 weeks pregnant and have only had a few days of suffering so far, which was already too much, I couldn’t bear the thought of another 6 weeks of it. It was like I had an all-day hangover every day and there was no cure. My boyfriend would ask what I wanted for dinner and I couldn’t ever give an answer, I had no desire for food whatsoever, food had to just be placed in front of me on the off chance that I might eat it. It lasted longer than 12 weeks (until about week 14) but it was the best feeling once I started fancying food again. Once it’s completely gone, you forget how bad it was really quickly.
What’s the best piece of pregnancy advice you’ve received?
My boyfriend's mum, who is a paramedic (my go-to for all medial advice) has told me that birth doesn’t need to be painful at all if I have an epidural from the start. I think I definitely needed to hear this. I don’t plan on going in with the intention of having an epidural, but I think that advice, along with reading a great hypnobirthing book has changed my mindset about birth. I was truly terrified for the first few months, but now I will just go with the flow on the day. Two of my close friends recently gave birth and neither was straight forward but they just did what they needed to do and I’ll go in there with that mindset too.
Do you expect to go back to work in the office before you start maternity leave? Are you anxious about maternity leave now that you’ve already spent so much time stuck indoors?
I’d really like to go back - it would be a shame to not see everyone for so long. I was half thinking I could have a secret pregnancy and no one at work would believe me when suddenly one day after lockdown I just turned up with a baby! I don’t fancy getting the train yet, but if things improve or if my bump isn’t too big to drive, I would definitely like to get back into the office for a bit before my maternity leave starts. I might change my mind once the bump is bigger and everything is exhausting.
I haven’t minded being stuck indoors at all, I’m busy with work so the days are still flying by. If I had to spend maternity leave indoors I think I’d be a little disappointed as I plan to visit my sister a lot, who will also be on maternity leave, and shop and have lunch with some friends, which is all stuff I wouldn’t currently be able to do. Hopefully the timing will be just right to start getting back out there once baby has been born.
Things are starting to ease up now, so it does seem likely! What do you do to try to stay relaxed being stuck indoors?
Like others, I have had a few crazy moments of thinking I could take up a new hobby in lockdown, I ordered some crochet bits, and thought I would make a blanket for the baby but, much like my attempt at the knitting club at work, I gave up after about two attempts. I should try again; it would be nice to have achieved something (other than growing a baby) in lockdown. Aside from that, lockdown has given me the time to read some pregnancy books, which I know I would never have got around to if life was busier, so it’s nice to be forced to have some down time.
And what are you most looking forward to about being a mum? 😊
I’m looking forward to the challenge and proving to myself that I am strong enough to face all the hurdles that come with pregnancy and motherhood. I will hopefully grow as a person from the experience and look forward to nurturing a child. I’m excited to see if mine or my boyfriend’s traits show in the baby’s personality, I hope she’ll be organised like me and really clever like him!
Have you been experiencing pregnancy during lockdown? Did you have a virtual baby shower, had the shops sold out of your biggest food craving? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!