For Weston woman Chantelle Thurlow, giving birth during the Covid-19 Level 3 lockdown was a welcome relief from the boredom.
Miss Thurlow and her partner, Hayden Johns, expected their son, Luca, to arrive at the beginning of June, but he had other ideas and arrived almost a month early, on May 9, weighing 2.6kg (5lb 13oz).
Luca’s early arrival was “a bit of a shock, but it was a blessing as well”, she said.
“I was over it. I’d been stuck at home for months. Before I had him I was working in a cafe, so when Covid broke out, they were like, and stay home’.
“So .. maternity leave started early.”
Miss Thurlow’s story is part of a book that has been compiled by Dunedin writer and breastfeeding counsellor Denise Ives who, while supporting families with breastfeeding during the lockdown period, found that parents needed to talk about what had happened.
“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the people of Aotearoa New Zealand, especially those having a baby. From giving birth without the support of a partner or chosen midwife, to having a home birth instead of a hospital birth – the changes have been unexpected and disconcerting for many,” she said.
Mamas in Lockdown is a compilation of 77 personal stories and photographs from parents who were pregnant or gave birth during the lockdown.
Miss Thurlow said she saw a post on Facebook about the book and followed it up.
“I thought cool idea’. Not every day you get to have a baby in a lockdown.”
She emailed Mrs Ives, who told her to write down her story, and they went from there.
Miss Thurlow’s partner works for Mainland Spreading, and continued working through lockdown, so she spent most of her days home alone.
Her biggest fear had been that she would go into labour and not be able to reach Mr Johns, who could have been working anywhere in the district.
She was glad she had gone into labour on a Saturday, so he was at home.
She had decided to birth in Dunedin, due to Luca being her first baby, and because of complications during the pregnancy.
“We went down to Dunedin in quite a hurry, because contractions were just getting stronger and faster.
“Because I was in full-on, active labour when I arrived at the hospital, Hayden got to stay with me.”
Mr Johns was not able to gown up in time to catch Luca when he was born, or cut the cord, so that was hard for him, she said; the hardest part for her was when he had to leave.
“We got out of the delivery room up into the ward. It was about an hour, and then he had to go.”
Miss Thurlow said they transferred from Dunedin to Oamaru Hospital after two days, and there was quite a difference in rules.
“The day that Hayden brought me up, he dropped me and Luca off at the hospital, and said come back with some food and stuff’, and they said not allowed in’.
“He was only allowed in once a day, and that was his once a day.
“When we were in the room, we weren’t allowed to go out and make a hot drink, or stretch our legs or get fresh air. It was literally, you’re stuck in that room. I was not allowed out of my room at all.
“By about day three of Luca being here, it kind of got to me. I wanted to go home. Luca was fine, I was fine, I just wanted to go home and settle in.”
It was also five days before Luca’s four-year-old sister Paige got to meet him, and then a month before he got to meet the rest of the family, which was also hard, Miss Thurlow said.
Copies of Mamas in Lockdowncan be pre-ordered through a PledgeMe campaign to help fund the cost of making the book. To order a copy, visit pledgeme.co.nz/projects/6697.