Coronavirus: Cardiff women's birth plans changed by crisis

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Clare Sandbrook and her daughter LilyImage source, Family photo
Image caption,
Clare Sandbrook was to be on a midwife-led ward but that was re-assigned as an isolation unit for pregnant women with coronavirus

A mother has spoken about her experience giving birth after her plans were disrupted by coronavirus.

Clare Sandbrook, 39, from Cardiff, was to be on a midwife-led unit but that was re-assigned as an isolation unit for pregnant women with Covid-19.

She ended up on a normal delivery ward at the city's University Hospital of Wales, as she had with her first birth.

That was complicated by pre-eclampsia, which causes high blood pressure during pregnancy.

"I was very relieved that Lily came nearly a week early because I started to feel very anxious," she said.

"The birth itself, forgetting coronavirus, was a lot more straightforward than my first thankfully."

Clare's husband was allowed to be present for the whole of her labour and was allowed to come back to visit after the baby was born. No other visitors were permitted.

"I didn't have any restrictions with my husband coming to see us," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Rachel Owen is 33 weeks' pregnant with her second child.

She was also due to give birth at the university hospital in Cardiff.

"I think I was really fortunate with my first baby to have a midwife-led birth... and I'd hoped to have a similar birth, a water birth," she said.

"Then last week I heard the midwife-led unit had been closed to prioritise care for Covid-19 patients.

"I had an appointment with my midwife last Wednesday, so I immediately changed my birth plan and requested to have a home birth, where I should be able to hire a birth pool at home - hopefully have a water birth at home with my birthing partner present."

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Rachel Owen has changed her plans to have a home birth

She recognised the plan may come to nothing.

"I have been warned at this stage that the Welsh Ambulance Service may well need to pull home births," she said.

Rachel said policy changes meant birth partners were now only able to be present for the final "active" stage of labour and the birth.

Then they have to leave.

Jill Walton, of the Royal College of Midwives, said midwives were trying hard to reassure women they were "there for them".

"It might be different from the choice you wanted first time, and midwives all around the country are looking at how they provide services depending on what resource they have available," she said.