With the COVID-19 pandemic slowly becoming the norm and the worldwide chaos of the last few months starting to settle, I thought I would take the chance to say the two words that have been said to us all again and again over the past five months: thank you.
Back in March of this year, when we went into lockdown and life as we knew it was turned upside down, little did we know the long-term effects of such a devastating virus. We rose to the challenge in our working lives to ensure the health and safety of our mothers and babies while offering support to partners who were bewildered by not being able to accompany their loved ones during birth.
As advocates, we found new and interesting ways of ensuring partners could continue to be a part of this experience albeit from afar until such time as it was safe for them to accompany their partners to some of the steps on the antenatal and intrapartum pathway.
Did we ever think we would be carrying out bookings on the phone, Facetime at scans, and arriving in personal protective equipment in the community to carry out postnatal care and blood spots? Did we envision a time when we would be asking women to isolate as much as possible prior to birth and telling them that they could not have visitors in their home following the birth of their new baby? Pictures of new mums and dads showing their baby through the window to new grandparents who could not visit, cuddle or kiss their new grandchild were hard to see and even contemplate.
Despite all this turmoil, upheaval and disappointment, it testimonies to the support, care and work of midwives nationally which can be viewed all across social media, in the national press and locally in the quantity of cards and gifts delivered to midwifery staff. The ‘clap for carers’ every week sought to raise our morale and that of all our NHS colleagues, some of whom will never forget their experiences. Many of us will have family, friends and work mates who have had this dreadful virus and indeed, there will be some among us who have suffered the trauma of losing a loved one and being unable to give them the funeral they wanted or deserved. As we move along the continuum of the ‘new normal’, we need to find positives in all this trauma.
We have found new ways of working which in fact may help both midwives and women. The once dreaded conference call is now a window into the lives of our friends, families and patients. Social distancing has in a lot of ways given a rebirth to respect for people's personal space and, for the most part, stopped people leaning across strangers and pushing and shoving in various situations. Our birds and animal friends have valued the peace and tranquillity of our roads and skies which has enabled them to return to their habitats in peace.
Try to take time to enjoy some of this tranquillity to enable you to have time to heal, reflect and take stock of the important things in life. Make use of the various well-being apps and creative tools being offered by local trusts and NHS England, and, most of all, remind yourself that you have achieved something great. Because of your resilience, women, babies and families have been supported and are confident to face the future-whatever it holds.