When Doctors Suspected This Mum Had Covid-19, She Faced Her C-Section Alone
Updated: Jun 1
A mum has described the uncertainty and fear she faced as she underwent a c-section as a suspected Covid-19 patient.
At Mairead Powell's 20 week scan, the 41-year-old Birmingham-based mum-of-one found out her baby was going to need to be hospitalised at birth. Her baby has problems with her kidneys and oesophagus. So hospitalisation became part of the birth plan.
What her and her husband couldn't have planned for and even considered was a global pandemic. One that would have Mairead treated as a suspected case of Covid-19 and one that would have her giving birth alone, away from her husband.
At 34 weeks, Mairead had been feeling a lack of movement in her womb, so called the hospital as a precaution. She had a slight cough, though, so wanted to be honest. She went to hospital and was greeted with a mask, then whisked away so they could monitor baby's movements. Her lack of movement motivated doctors to undertake an emergency c-section.
"I called my husband to tell him that because I was suspected as Covid-19, he couldn't be with me. I would need to do it alone," Mairead told us when we spoke to her.
She told us about her experience, comparing it to the 1980s film ET.
"They informed me I was the first patient they had done this for," she said. "I said I hoped this was purely a test run. They were very good, making sure I didn't feel alone and reassuring me throughout. Mostly, I didn't get upset."
Her concern, instead, was for her husband, who was left outside with little information. When her baby was born – who she named Maeve – she was taken straight to the neonatal ward. She had to be resuscitated.
"Seeing the backs of people as they wheeled her out was hard. I hadn't seen her at all and didn't know if/when I ever would.
"Thankfully, my husband at this point was in the reception and my consultant said he could get a quick picture of her as she was taken away. He was then sent home and told to self-isolate. He wasn't even allowed to leave my or my daughter's hospital bags," said Mairead.
Thankfully, both Mairead and her daughter Maeve were tested for Covid-19 and their results came back clear.
"I called my husband who came straight down. After nearly three days apart and having been through so much, I was so wonderful to see him again," she said.
Mairead and her husband, with their newborn daughter Maeve. Credit: Mairead Powell
Heartbreakingly, their rough journey wasn't over. Maeve needed to be operated on as they were concerned about her bowl.
"They advised that if her bowel was not in a good enough state, she would be closed up and would not survive. I called my husband and then spent hours alone in my quarantine, crying.
"The prospect was very real that we might never meet my daughter, because I said I had a slight cough. Some amazing people pulled some strings and got my husband in to see her.
"He video messaged me and I spent a few minutes, before the operation, telling her how much I loved her through tears. It was one of the worse things I've ever had to do."
Thankfully, both Mairead and her husband are now able to visit Maeve while she recovers in hospital. It was always going to be a difficult road ahead, but the parents are very thankful they are able to visit their newborn.
Mairead left us with one piece of advice for pregnant mums facing birth during lockdown: "Trust in the NHS. They made sure I was looked after and did everything they could to help in difficult circumstances. My situation was extreme because of her health problems. Right now, I am sat beside her in the hospital, watching her sleep, looking forward to one day, taking her home. Just hold on to hope."
If you're pregnant, and are worried about giving birth during the Covid-19 pandemic, please know that you are not alone!