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March for Maternity: 'It was really hard having no one with me... it was an awful night', new mum Niamh Diamond says

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Niamh Diamond, partner Ger Convery and baby Darcy for news spread on maternity restrictions

Niamh Diamond, partner Ger Convery and baby Darcy for news spread on maternity restrictions

Niamh Diamond, partner Ger Convery and baby Darcy for news spread on maternity restrictions

NHS nurse Niamh Diamond will remember her first night alone in hospital with her first baby girl in July as one of the most traumatic of her life.

Recalling it today, her emotions well up and it is obvious what should have been an exciting time for the new mum instead was overshadowed by distress.

Niamh (25), who lives in Castledawson, gave birth to her daughter Darcy in Antrim Area Hospital, on July 7 after almost 24 hours of labour.

Her partner, Ger Convery (30), had missed most of the scans and check-ups due to Covid restrictions which were relaxed just before his daughter was born, allowing him to attend the birth.

However, with her pregnancy being closely monitored because of concerns the baby was very large, Niamh found it a lonely journey.

She says: "I had to go to all the appointments on my own. After the 20-week scan I was scanned every three weeks and Ger couldn't be with me.

"When Darcy was born I thought that Ger would be able to sit with her and get a bit of skin to skin contact but the ward was so busy he was asked to get her dressed and leave.

"So he got to spend about five minutes with his daughter.

"I was sent to the postnatal ward alone and it was hard having no one with me.

"My baby was very unsettled and I had not slept in over 24 hours and it was an awful night."

Visiting was restricted to just one hour for Niamh's partner the next day and no other family members were allowed in to see the new baby.

With an unsettled newborn, Niamh faced a second sleepless night before being allowed home.

She says: "I feel like any chance of enjoying the experience was taken from us. The day I was due to get home Ger had to sit from 11am until 6pm in his car waiting for them to let me go.

"He didn't get to spend any time with his daughter in her first 24 hours or be able to support me.

"I found the whole thing very overwhelming."

As a community nurse Niamh is aware of the pressures on the health service but found the experience as a patient an eye opener.

She adds: "The midwife who was with me was incredible and so supportive and did everything she could for me but it was chaos in the maternity unit and delivery suite because it was so busy.

"It showed me just how stretched services are.

"Working in the NHS I'm aware of how difficult things are but being on the other side I could see the limitations as a patient and it was really rough."

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