Becoming A Mum During A Pandemic: Fiona O’Neill’s Story

For most, becoming a parent for the first time is a time of stress as well as hope, but that stress can be elevated as the COVID-19 Pandemic looms over us all. Fiona O’Neill, a newly appointed Emergency Medical Consultant in Causeway hospital has discussed her experience of working in a hospital during the pandemic while being seven months pregnant.

When Dr O’Neill, from the local community, discovered that she was pregnant, she revealed that she was received a risk assessment and was allocated to A&E to work with non-COVID suspected patients, Dr O’Neill stated that the move “made me feel safe. As long as I am wearing my PPE, I am protected.” Dr O’Neill further stated that despite not being in contact with patients who contracted COVID-19, “there is still a level of risk.”

Whilst discussing the preparation of childbirth, Dr O’Neill has understood that “there are restrictions regarding visitors to the maternity unit and additional restrictions are in place for her husband. This sense of unknowing has been summarised by Dr O’Neill saying, “There is definite anxiety that any new mum would have, especially with COVID-19.” As a Consultant, Dr O’Neill has recognised the current situation with a keen analysis, further saying, “With pressure for beds, you are gone. I would not want to be in a hospital and put me or my child at risk. There is a lot of anxiety.” Dr O’Neill also discussed her role as a Consultant in the heat of the pandemic, stating that workers in a hospital embody compassion and she has further argued that “you miss something with patients, even that compassionate face that is lost behind a mask.” Whilst noting her own hope and excitement, the work of her colleagues and the care of her patients remains firmly in her mind.

Dr O’Neill said, “COVID is a bigger threat than ever. There is an increase in stress on ambulances and trying to get them in through the front door.” Dr O’Neill has emphasised the importance of following the correction procedure, arguing that “the Second Wave bears heavily upon the department. This has a ripple effect on the rest of the hospital.” and that the current rate has put “more pressure on the hospital.” Dr O’Neill has noted the societal impact of COVID, considering the working-class families as well as BAME patients, “could possibly face heightened racial tensions.” Whilst discussing the stigmatisation of certain groups, Dr O’Neill has argued that “The second wave is felt across Europe, not one group has resulted in this surge in COVID-19.” Dr O’Neill has acknowledged that “mental health problems are rising. I don’t think we appreciate how special it is when you speak to someone you know.”

Alongside this, Dr O’Neill discussed the topic of teaching University students online or on campus saying, “Personally, entirely online. I’m not a professional on that side of things, but from what I’ve seen in the hospital, I think it should have been entirely online. Hopefully 2021 will be a better year for us all.”

Author profile