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Bradford nurse describes working during pandemic while pregnant

Southlake nurse Meagan Warbuck who is expecting later this summer loves learning
Meagan Warbuck and her husband Steve are expecting their first child this summer.

Imagine standing on your feet all day, tending to women in labour and their newborn babies during a worldwide pandemic...while pregnant. 

That's the case for Bradford resident Meagan Warbuck who is expecting her first child later this summer and working in the maternity ward at Southlake hospital in Newmarket. 

"It's interesting that's for sure," she said about working while pregnant during a pandemic. 

"You get used to it," she said when asked how she is able to keep up with the demands of the job while carrying a human being, "Your body is used to the shift work."

She said her first trimester was the most difficult, especially during the night shifts.

"Now that I'm in my second trimester, getting close to the third, I feel a lot better now," she said.

When the pandemic first hit, she said it was a real learning curve for her and the team, keeping up with all the information about the coronavirus. 

"Now because we have a bit more of a handle on what the disease is we are better able to educate at work and in the community," she said.

She is happy to see patients comfortable coming to the hospital to have their babies, a "silver lining" of the pandemic, she notes, allowing them to enjoy those happy moments. 

Warbuck will be delivering at Southlake where she works, with her husband and midwife by her side. 

Throughout the pandemic, Warbuck noted how some hospitals had to restrict partners from being in the room during labour. 

"That is something we never got rid of," she said about Southlake's birthing unit policy, allowing one support person to at the hospital for the labouring patient.

She noted how important it is for mothers to have a supportive partner in the delivery room with them. 

"You need that support system," she said. 

Warbuck has noticed the amount of COVID-positive mothers coming into the birthing unit has increased in the third wave of the pandemic. 

"There are more (COVID-positive mothers) in this third wave for sure," she said. "We were lucky not to see the impacts in the first and second (wave) compared to the other units and floors in the hospital...but now we are starting to see positive moms or partners, family members." 

As per Southlake's policy, no support persons who have screened positive for COVID-19 or are in a 14-day quarantine are allowed into the hospital. 

A birthing unit is a specialized unit, with each staff member trained with specific sets of skills. 

"There are not many people that can do our side of the job," she said, adding that there have been other hospitals who have had to shut down their birthing units due to COVID outbreaks. 

Thankfully, Southlake has not experienced any outbreaks in the birthing unit. 

"Happy, healthy moms. Happy, healthy babies" is what she and the rest of the nurses always say to each other before their shift. 

Warbuck moved to Bradford in 2018 from Brampton to live with her then-boyfriend, now husband, Steve. 

The couple got married last fall, after getting engaged two months before the pandemic hit. 

Despite not being able to host their originally planned 140 guest wedding, she said the scaled-down 30-attendee event was "fantastic."

The couple married at Belcroft Estate and Event Centre in Gilford and held their reception at Brick and Fire in Bradford.

"It was awesome, we really wouldn't change anything," she said. 

Three months after their nuptials, they learned they were expecting. 

"It's crazy how all of this has happened during a pandemic," she said about her marriage and pregnancy. 

Warbuck started her role as a nurse in the birthing unit at Southlake in March 2019. She had a previous career in the veterinary field before going back to school to become a nurse. 

She attended The University of Guelph to obtain her degree in animal biology with hopes of attending veterinary school straight after. After a few years of unsuccessful applications, she took a position within the field as a surgical assistant animal care attendant. 

It wasn't until she was in her mid-20s, a colleague told her she should consider a career in nursing. Because of her degree from Guelph, she was able to fast-track her studies with a two-year bridge program for nursing. 

"I wasn't sure when I first started nursing where I would end up," she said. 

It wasn't until she entered her postpartum semester at school that she felt a connection helping new parents and their babies. 

"I'm a fixer and I'm an educator, that's how I see myself," she said. "I feel like I'm educating and giving parents knowledge and helping them get home with their babies and feeling confident."

She did her final placement at Southlake, where the nurse educator told her she would be a great fit for the hospital's birthing unit.

"I feel like I am constantly learning and constantly teaching," she about her line of work. "It's a cool crossroads of (being) student and teacher."

Warbuck is looking forward to delivering at Southlake, and embarking on the next chapter of her life as a mother. 

From the Canadian Nurse's Association (CNA):

May 10-16, 2021: The National Nursing Week. The theme this year is #WeAnswerTheCall and was developed by CNA to showcase the many roles that nurses play in a patient’s healthcare journey. The pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and showed the important role that nurses play in the community.

Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is BradfordToday's Community Editor. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats
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