Giving birth can be stressful at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a nationwide lockdown. But some things just can't be put on hold.

"I guess you can never be fully prepared for your first birth," said Mount Maunganui mum-to-be Leonie Mavroyannis. "You never really know what's going to happen, but in your mind, you want it to be as least stressful a process as possible. The unknowingness of the whole Covid-19 has just brought a lot of questions into our minds."

Under Ministry of Health guidelines, hospitals are now restricting visitors - allowing only one person to attend a birth during alert level 4.

"There's been a lot of rules changing around birthing at the hospital and we always wanted to be in the birthing experience together and to do as much of that together as possible," she said. "Nathan not being able to be there for too long after the birth is just … it doesn't make you feel as comfortable as a first-time mum."

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For first-time father Nathan, the safety of mum and baby is paramount amid the many uncertainties.

"What is being done to ensure that the birthing unit is kept as safe as possible? What's the procedure? How does that work?" he said.

"The husband or partner has to leave after two hours. As sucky as that is and as terrible as that may seem, it's totally acceptable, as it's just looking out for the best, making sure everybody's kept safe, and I respect that and that's fine."

Midwives are just as important as ever but they have also had to adapt to social distancing.

"We're still an essential service, so they will still get complete midwifery care, so that's not going to change," said Tauranga midwife Carmen Lett. "But the way we provide that care is going to be really different.

"I have a caseload of my own women I look after, so we're doing a lot of phone consults, only having to see them when it's really necessary. And we're keeping visits to a minimum so it's lessening the exposure to themselves and myself as well."

Carmen also hosts an online antenatal course, which is proving popular during lockdown.

"I just did a Zoom class with them last night, which was awesome. They'd all started the course content, so they brought along their questions and we chatted about anything they'd watched and wanted further clarification on, talked a lot about the virus and how that might affect them and their care at the moment, so yeah, I think it was a really good way of doing it. It's still not ideal for some of them that wanted to be in a physical class but I think it's a really great option still."

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For Leonie and Nathan, the course has helped steady their nerves, despite being online.

"It's helped us to prepare for what the warning signs are of labour so we know what is coming, and when we can make that decision of if it's a home birth or you still head to hospital. It's really helped knowing all that information prior," Leonie said.

"People can parent a baby how they like but there are some fundamentals you need to know about how to make sure a baby lives," Nathan added. "It covers it quite well.

"I feel like I went from knowing nothing to quite a lot very quickly, so it's good to have that resource to be able to go back to online, and we can keep going through it. It's not just somebody telling you something and then it's done, you can keep going back and going over it."

Video conferences are common after the birth as well. For many babies born in lockdown, a Zoom meeting will be one of the first things they see.

"The birthing rooms are full of people who are on FaceTime introducing their new little addition to their family, to the rest of their family," Leonie said. "It's pretty amazing to have the technology that we do now because we have to look at that as … it's probably going to be the way the grandparents meet the baby."

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