Touching Base: Reflections of an Obstetrician during Coronavirus pandemic
It has been just a tad busy at work on the NHS. These are indeed curious times we live and work in. It reminds me of Charles Dickens.
A tale of two cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”
The maternity services looks and feels very different and at the same time is reassuringly familiar. What do I mean by that?
Yes, antenatal clinic appointments are now mainly telephone consultations except if you need tests done, scans performed, specific examinations or close monitoring because of ongoing medical condition such as diabetes or blood pressure etc.
Even with the latter, you sometimes still do not need a face to face appointment as some units are using patient apps where the correct measurements are logged by the women themselves at home and then the results reviewed remotely and plans made for change of medication etc.
It was not so long ago that going in and listening to baby’s heart rate (sounding like a horse galloping) with the hand held doppler machine was the highlight of the antenatal visit. However, now self-monitoring of baby’s movements can be suitably effective and reassuring.
There is a move to outpatient method of induction of labour (starting labour) if for any reason this is recommended.
This out of hospital induction has always been on offer but the uptake has been variable as women have sometimes preferred to be in hospital for this to be commenced, or even as healthcare professionals we have had our various biases for or against this.
Guess what now, both us and our women seem to be up for this now if there are no additional risk factors or contraindications to this.
There off course will be pregnancies that are not suitable for this method of induction or women who live too far away.
Then there is the screening when you come into the unit (ward areas)
Screening questions for you and your partner about Covid symptoms +/- a temperature check on arrival.
Masks for partners in some units, No partners in others, Home birth option promoted in some units, stopped in others.
Green or red areas of wards with different entrances to demarcate the areas according to risk and staff wearing varying PPE in the different areas. Midwives and doctors in aprons, gloves and masks . No need to worry this is for your protection and theirs. You may worry that they are carrying it but the likelihood is you may be bringing it in!
It may look daunting at first but you soon adjust to it. Are you nervous when people are in Tesco queues in masks and gloves maintaining social distance? Probably not as you or your loved ones could be that person.
I bet their masks are not the super water resistant surgical masks we wear in hospital. May look like it! Bet even if you have super duper N95+ mask wearers on the Waitrose queues, they have not been properly fitted like our mega super duper FFP£ .
So friends embrace the new NHS brand look-and feel secure not fearful.
Here’s the deal
You can read our Facebook group in support of pregnant women during this outbreak, where some of the women on this platform have shared their positive birth experiences.
Birth continues to remain positive because we are all doing the jobs we have been trained to do and love.
We are all appreciative of how nervous women are about coming in at this time but once in there is this sense of “I am having a baby and it is about me and my baby”.
Once in the actual labour ward room and birthing centre room, this seems to be the most ‘covid-free’ head space many of you have been in for a while .
Because it is all about bringing a new special person into this world.
It is all about birthing with all the support, hope, excitement, pain relief and joy associated with this special moment. For many with all the worry and anxiety of the preceding weeks-the moment has come that one has been fearful about yet somehow it feels reassuring , the staff feel reassuring, the process and people feel more normal and controlled than you expected, there seem to be enough staff, the doom and gloom and awful statistics you have been feeding on seem to fade into the background.
It truly is the best of times and the worst of times.
Let’s all be careful out there.
This article has been written by Miss Gubby Ayida Consultant Obstetrician, CEO and Founder of The Women’s Wellness Centre.
Our Consultants and Specialists at The Women’s Wellness Centre offer care and reassurance from conception to birth, providing everything you need to have a healthy and happy pregnancy. If you wish to know more about our Private Pregnancy Care please contact us on 020 7751 4488 or book an appointment online here.
Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist MA FRCOG DM (Oxon)
Gubby’s guiding philosophy is based on a respect for pregnancy as a state of health, and childbirth as a normal, healthy physiological process. Her obstetric care respects the diversity of women’s needs and the variety of personal and cultural values that women bring to pregnancy and birthing. Gubby Ayida is also Founder/CEO of the Women’s Wellness Centre over the years has grown, developing a strong established brand. Miss Ayida was listed in (2007/2013) Tatlers Guide to Britains ‘s 250 best private Doctors.