Cat’s birth story: A birth experience I’ll never forget!

While I was pregnant with my second daughter, I never would have imagined her birth to be as it was. I was lucky enough to have a positive birth experience with my six year old, Juliet, and I had a problem-free pregnancy this time around – this, in addition to the fact that I live and breathe all-things-baby as Piccolo founder, led me to feel fairly confident that I knew what to expect – how wrong I was!

Having gone into labour much earlier than my due date, I had an emergency c-section just as lockdown in London was announced. Amid the growing anxiety and pressures of the uncertain world around us, I was all the more determined to not have my new baby’s arrival affected by matters out of our control.

I was also very fortunate to have such a fantastic team of doctors and nurses around me and, as the only mum due to deliver at UCL, I felt fully supported. Just before my c-section, the doctors were completing their Covid preparedness drills, so although it was a strange time, I felt reassured that I was in safe hands.

I was in and out within 24 hours, which was really positive and for baby Scarlett Rose’s benefit, given the newness of corona. Around me, the staff were preparing and talking about COVID – whether it was about staff who had just returned from isolation or re-organising how symptomatic patients would be attended to.

Now, when I look back at this time, it feels totally surreal that this was my birth experience. I think, at the time you don’t let these things phase you too much as all of your attention is on your new baby – but I’m aware I was only able to do this in large part because I had such confident, competent NHS staff around me; despite everything they were facing, their support allowed me to relax, savour this precious moment and not let it be tainted too much by the worries around us.

My personal experience of the NHS was amazing as I really bonded with my assigned midwife, Alison, who also has a baby, Lennie. She was there for me when my waters unexpectedly broke and still checks in to see how we are, weeks later.

The extent of the situation hit me when I found out that the team who performed my surgery was struggling to get baby food because of their hours and stockpiling. I suppose sometimes, it’s not until you encounter people who are personally impacted that it truly dawns on you.

I’m pleased that I feel like I can go some way in returning the favour, supporting the NHS and new parents via Piccolo. As you know, we then launched an online shop for baby milk and food with free delivery to families’ doorsteps and a discount for NHS workers – we’re also donating baby meals to vulnerable children with every order.

Now I’m home, it’s a balancing act of home-schooling Juliet and tending to Scarlett – so I haven’t had much time for relaxing! I see what needs doing, judge what I can afford to push back or put on pause for the time being, and what is important to keep up in order to keep myself and my family happy and healthy. Of course, it’s not a one size fits all situation but overall, I think the main take away is that we all need to learn to be kinder to ourselves, especially now. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, but my tip is to focus on the health and happiness of our children, and ourselves as parents.