On 28 February 2020, New Zealand reported its first case of Covid-19. By 26 March, New Zealand was at alert level 4 – complete lockdown. It was a month before New Zealand moved down to alert level 3, allowing a slight lift in some restrictions, and over two more weeks before New Zealand moved down to alert level 2 on 13 May. During alert levels 4, 3, and 2, approximately 10,000 women gave birth in New Zealand*.
Many women will have laboured alone, will have spent the first few days of being a parent alone, separated from their partner who may have been at home looking after other children, out doing the job of an essential worker, or not allowed to be in hospital during lockdown; others will have left hospital only hours after giving birth for the first time – even after having a caesarian section. Some will have returned home to care for a new baby, and maybe other children, without the assistance of whānau and friends.
For many women, the transition from working or life before motherhood will have not been as planned. Baby showers, leaving gifts and parties at work, pregnancy photos shoots, antenatal classes – many of these things will have been missed, leaving some parents feeling unprepared and abruptly shifted from a life they knew and understood to their new life of parenthood. Parents who had never considered or wanted a home birth were encouraged to look at this as a favourable option as hospitals tried to minimise the number of people entering and leaving.
*Maternity Services Consumer Council Newsletter, Issue 116, July 2020
Published by Denise Ives, Mamas in Lockdown is a compilation of over 70 stories from parents who gave birth or were pregnant during Covid-19. During lockdown, Denise was supporting families online and realised that so many were struggling or feeling stressed about how the Covid-19 situation was affecting their birthing, feeding and parent experience.
Denise appreciated how therapeutic it could be to write down overwhelming feelings, and invited parents to share their stories about pregnancy, labour, and all things childbirth and parenting. Following a huge response, Denise decided to compile these stories into a book. Mamas in Lockdown is there to support, share and remind new parents they are not alone. Each story contains specific and unique details of each journey, and builds awareness of the challenges and triumphs faced during this unpredictable and unique time in New Zealand’s history. Shared here is just one story from this amazing compilation. To read more stories, pre-order your copy of Mamas in Lockdown here.
I live in Tauranga and am a mother of three children, aged ten years, six years, and four months. My due date was the day before we into lockdown, Tuesday 24 March. My eldest arrived the day after his due date and my second was a week early. I had my mum staying with us for ten days. I picked her up on the Sunday before lockdown. On the Wednesday we kind of freaked out as my mum was an essential worker who lived in Auckland; she had to go back. Being pregnant and a day overdue, I was worried – who was going to look after the kids, and was I going to have to birth by myself?
My mum had to go back to Auckland.
By Monday I had a midwife appointment; I was a few days overdue. At my appointment, I was booked in for an induction on the Friday. Wednesday morning at 5:30 am, I woke up with period pain and feeling like I needed to poop. After going to the toilet, the pains weren’t going away so I decided to walk around. I took a shower and left everyone to sleep. Around 6:00 am, I phoned my midwife saying my contractions were lasting 40 seconds and were two minutes apart. I think she didn’t hear me; I did wake her up (whoops).