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Giving birth in times of coronavirus: COVID-19 leads couples to consider home births

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Virus Outbreak Britain
Virus Outbreak Britain   -   Copyright  Kirsty Wigglesworth/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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Dozy after his milk, just six days old, baby Acer has been born into a rapidly-changing world.

The Howick family’s second son, Acer was delivered at home after the coronavirus pandemic tipped the scales of their decision not to go to the hospital for the birth.

“This first baby was quite a straightforward birth and easy so everyone suggested that I considered a home birth," said Claire Howick.

"But we had such a good experience in the midwife-lead unit at the hospital that we were still considering both"

Other factors that led to them choosing a home birth included getting their hands on a birthing pool, the issue of what to do with their 21-month-old Sebastian during the birth.

Equally, hospitals in many European countries are not allowing partners to visit the hospital with them - or if they can, only very close to the moment of birth.

That is the clincher for Laura Peters, in Bremerhaven, Germany, who is preparing her house for her first child.

With her baby due in July, Laura will make her decision based on whether the hospital, which is 30 minutes away from her home, will allow her husband to be in the room when she gives birth.

“I don’t want to be at a place where just people are there I don’t know. I feel kind of very uncomfortable because it’s a situation I’ve never been to," Laura said.

'It makes me feel crazy if I think I have to go there by myself and be there all on my own.'

Healthcare is controlled by individual governments in EU countries and capacities vary.

The advice from the European Midwives Association is that every birth is different and requires personalised consultation.

“The answer really always is, it is so important for midwives, women and the rest of the maternity team to have a good relationship where they can communicate [with] each other and actually discuss these options and these anxieties," says Mervi Jokinen, President of the European Midwives Association.

The Howick family did end up having to take baby Acer for a short visit to the local hospital about 12 hours after his birth.

And a couple of weeks after the birth, Claire had to return to hospital herself with a suspected case of COVID19.

“I started developing… It was a hot day here and I was shivering and I had a slight cough and things and I thought, I’ll check his temperature and then I thought, oh I’ll check mine and it was 38 something and I was like…this isn’t good," explains Claire.

She is better now. But it remains a worrying time for mothers across Europe giving birth in the times of the coronavirus pandemic.