A bit dramatic for a title I know but it did change. It is still changing. From March 2020 everything changed and to be honest I am not sure it will ever go back to how it was pre Covid. Many, many families lost loved ones to this outrageous disease, and are still losing them, and are still coming to terms with all that losing a loved one brings. If not in our own family I think everyone knows a family that has suffered a loss to Covid.
Change is not always bad however and in some areas of our lives it can be very positive. For example, it is so positive that this period of time has meant we think outside the box as to how we can be productive in lockdown. How many of us have managed to get jobs done that have been on the ‘to do list’ for ever and a day. For some going to work continued. Our front-line workers have kept the country going for which we are forever grateful. The worries they have experienced about bringing the virus back into their homes must have been immense. This is a virus that takes no prisoners, some do not even know they have it, so precautions are required all the time and remain in place even now. This is not the time to become complacent. This virus has not gone away.
Thank you to our amazing ITU Staff!
The staff in our hospitals carried on in PPE gear each day and still do. My thoughts are with the ITU staff having to deal with their mental health now things are getting back to a more manageable level. They have been on autopilot during this pandemic. The pressure and situations they were exposed to every time they went into work must be so difficult to move on from. I truly hope they are getting the support they deserve to help them move on to the new normal for them.
New ways of working
What about businesses? Well, again, sadly some have gone by the wayside but for others a new day dawns. New ways of working, with working days at home for some. What I have seen and heard is that businesses have been accommodating, providing more flexibility for their staff especially working mums with flexible hours etc. Indeed, it was a case of having to, especially with children at home otherwise they would have gone under. I really hope this flexibility continues especially in the NHS. I believe if we have flexibility with our mums at a stage in their career when they need regular childcare then they are more likely to stay. As the children get older, they will be able to hopefully extend their hours and take up positions that will benefit both themselves and the companies or organisations they work for. What is it Richard Branson says “If you look after your staff, they will look after your customers”.
For us as midwives in the NHS and our families, there have been adjustments to make as well. I believe some of the changes have unearthed a more productive way of working. We shall see.
How we have adjusted in our care seems to be different in Trusts around the UK . Some women are being seen face to face for their booking appointment, some are over the phone followed by having their bloods, BP weight and height are done at 12 weeks with the first scan. Most units now, I believe, see women at 16 weeks face to face and then a phone call at 25 weeks and face to face from 28 weeks, 32, 34, 36 , 38 and 40 weeks.
For some units the changes have meant the suspension of their home birth services, for others they carried on especially if they were case loading their women. Some units have even seen a rise in their home birth rates as women opt to stay at home to birth their baby’s as they feel safer.
Again, different practices for different units with postnatal care. Once home some mums and babies are seen for the first visit either at home or they come into a clinic, some do face time, some do a phone call. On day 5 when the heel prick test is advised some units send midwives or nursery nurses out to the homes, while others invite mum and baby into a clinic. On day 10 if all is well with mum and baby midwives will discharge to the care of the health visitor. This might be over the phone or a clinic or a visit, it depends on the Trust’s standard of practice policy.
All Trust’s are doing what they feel is best practice to protect their women and families and their staff in these difficult times. The staff in maternity have also found it all very strange, but our emphasis is on safety for everyone. In our Trust our mums and families have been amazing and have worked really well with us to keep each other as safe as possible.
Us at PBB Events
What about our business PBB events? Well like many other businesses we have had to adapt to survive. We had to cancel all of our face to face study days for health professionals up to Christmas. Our women’s health seminars were also sadly cancelled. It has however given Emma and I time to focus on where we want PBB events to go and plan for how we aim to achieve this.
We discovered zoom!! I am a bit of a novice when it comes to all things social media and Zoom type things so was very nervous. Emma does all of our ‘live’ QA stuff and is very natural at it so I step back. Or I did! Emma has been nagging me for a while that we need to be online with classes and I was reluctant as love the banter we have in our face to face classes and wasn’t sure it would work on line.
Now I am teaching most nights live on zoom and not even worrying about it. Once I know everyone has arrived and are ‘in the room’ I am fine. For PBB it means no venue costs which means we can keep our prices down and then our courses become more accessible. So far we have had a menopause health seminar on zoom, a health professional study session on the pelvic floor on zoom, several antenatal classes, a twice monthly PBB pregnancy club, a weekly postnatal club and more events planned for the future. Zoom is also world wide so we have had people join us from California no less and all over the UK which is lovely. Lots of us have been able to keep in touch with family and friends on these platforms and it is amazing.
For our women they seem to be embracing it - the feedback has been SO positive. They can access classes from their sofa whilst eating their dinner or just relaxing in their PJ’s. They have really embraced online sessions. For our professionals involved with pregnant women, labouring women or new mums and baby’s they can join us on zoom for study sessions with a glass of something nice without worrying about driving home. The speakers don’t have to travel miles to get to our events and zoom means we can access speakers from further afield.
Most importantly for us it has opened up a whole new audience. People that would never come to a class filled with strangers, where they might be expected to join in, are accessing online classes. They can stay incognito; they do not have to have their camera on or say anything. They can just listen and get all the information they need. People with anxiety issues for example are attending our sessions and really enjoying them.
For others the social networking around antenatal classes is a big draw to classes so we have started our walking and talking groups for our local mums that want to join us. It is a gentle stroll for about 40 mins in different locations each week with a lot of chatting going on. We all bring chairs or a blanket for a sit down after the walk, enjoy a drink and the chatting continues. We welcome all pregnant mums and new mums with babies up to 3 months old to join us. Again, the feedback has been amazing.
Positives come from dreadful times
So to conclude, yes the world is a different place now and for some it has been a devastating time with family losses, loss of jobs and businesses, but there must be some positives that come out of these dreadful times. De cluttered houses, immaculate gardens, cleaner oceans, families spending quality time with their children, families realising they need to address the work life balance, companies and organisations seeing the value of flexible working and working from home. A deeper appreciation of our teachers having undertaken home schooling with our children, a deep sense of gratitude to our front-line workers keeping everything ticking over and especially the staff in our ITU’s.
Whatever changes you have had to make in your lives since March, if they have made a positive difference to you, your environment, your family or your business – keep them going if you can.
We can then say - March 2020 was a dreadful time with Covid but some amazing decisions and changes were made for the better.