Proudly announcing her pregnancy in January, WillisPalmer’s Business Administrator, Chloe Bach was on top of the world. However, little did she know at that point that she would be experiencing a large part of her pregnancy during lockdown in response to COVID-19.
Chloe is currently 33 weeks pregnant with her first baby, a girl, due early July. And while she is elated to be expecting, her pregnancy has been “an anxious time” with usual routine procedures during pregnancy adapted during lockdown.
While restrictions were officially announced on 23 March, ‘at risk’ groups including pregnant women were identified the previous week and it was agreed that Chloe would work home from 17 March following government guidance.
“At first, I wasn’t too concerned as I didn’t think it would come to much but as lockdown restrictions were announced I became anxious as there wasn’t just me to think about, but my baby as well,” said Chloe.
Coincidentally, a laptop that was organised for Chloe for if she ever needed to work from home, was given to her the day before the government guidance included pregnant women in the ‘at risk’ groups and so she had access to the systems and reports she needed.
Working from home has actually proved to be successful for Chloe during this period and she feels she has been more productive in some ways, especially when compiling reports and management information “with no office phone or interruptions”.
Yet many of the usual procedures during pregnancy have been adapted. “Thankfully I had my two scans at 12 and 20 weeks before lockdown and my husband was able to attend the scan when we found out that we were having a little girl. I would have hated to have gone to that alone. The ante-natal classes were cancelled and I have had to attend appointments with my midwife on my own. Many midwives have reduced the face-to-face contact they have with expectant mums, but because I had high blood pressure, I have regularly seen my midwife at the hospital. I was lucky to get the two scans before lockdown.”
Fortunately, and again coincidentally, Chloe and her husband bought many of the ‘large’ items needed for the baby such as the pram and cot before restrictions on shopping were implemented after she had her 20-week scan. Other smaller items have been purchased online using shops like Amazon.
But Chloe does feel she has “experienced pregnancy on her own”, unable to share the excitement face-to-face with her family, friends and her colleagues in the office who are like a “second family” given Chloe has worked at WillisPalmer for 11 years.
“Sarah has always been such a massive support to me over the years and it has been hard not sharing the excitement and having emotional support,” said Chloe.
Fortunately, as things stand, Chloe’s husband can be present at the birth although she is limited to one birthing partner so unfortunately her mum won’t be present at the birth although can hopefully visit her grandchild shortly afterwards.
Family members have made blankets and clothes for the baby but Chloe has been unable to see them as yet, although she hopes that as restrictions are lifted she will be able to spend some time with family members before the baby arrives.
Due to the fact that Chloe is unable to be present in the office currently, a handover workwise will be problematic. Although the increased usage of Zoom will undoubtedly prove essential as Chloe advises other colleagues on the work that needs to be carried out when she embarks on maternity leave at the end of June.
In fact, while Chloe has massively missed her work family, working from home during pregnancy has been an adaptation she has embraced wholeheartedly.
“Sarah has said a few times about the possibility of me working from home if I wanted to return after my maternity leave, and the lockdown did come at a good time for me in a lot of ways. I was getting tired and not having the 20-minute drive to work meant my mornings were much slower paced and when I finish work at 5pm, I’m at home,” said Chloe.
“We are unsure when I will be returning to work but this period has definitely proved that I can complete a lot of my work from home which will be useful to know going forwards so this has been a great trial in a lot of ways,” she concluded.
The children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield has produced this report on Lockdown Babies