A BBC radio presenter has revealed how she started having panic attacks when her husband was banned from visiting her in hospital after the birth of their son.

Shiona McCallum, who works on Radio 1’s Newsbeat programme, gave birth to the couple’s son Ramsay after a traumatic 60-hour labour at a hospital in London in June.

After he was born, he was admitted to the neonatal unit for oxygen to help him breathe, but his father Michael was unable to visit him or see his wife for the next eight days.

Ms McCallum said her husband’s absence gave her “incredible anxiety” which ultimately caused her to have a series of panic attacks, prolonging her stay in hospital.

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The 33-year-old Glaswegian has now become an ambassador for See Me, an organisation backed by the Scottish Government which is campaigning to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

Her experiences of giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic are likely to chime with thousands of other parents across the UK who have had to deal with added anxiety.

Lockdown anxiety

During lockdown some expectant fathers and partners were unable to be in hospital in the early stages of labour, with some even missing the birth of their child.

Many hospitals still have restrictions on visitors in place, with a petition calling on partners to be allowed throughout the birthing process receiving almost 450,000 signatures.

“I was in tears for most of that time. It was an incredibly stressful, isolating experience,” Ms McCallum said.

“Not having the support of my husband gave me incredible anxiety, and it was impossible to build any rapport with the midwives because they were in full PPE. I felt completely alone.

“It was heartbreaking to be forced apart, and so unnatural when you have been looking forward to becoming a family for nine months.

“The situation was so hideous that I started to have panic attacks and as a result ended up staying in the hospital even longer.”

Shiona McCallum was without her husband Michael for eight days after the birth of their son
Shiona McCallum was without her husband Michael for eight days after the birth of their son

The journalist said she had first experienced mental health issues after a car crash in Dubai eight years ago. She hid how she was feeling for six months before having a breakdown.

“After my experience in Dubai, I’ve worked incredibly hard to prioritise my mental health. A big part of my recovery has been because of my husband, who has been an incredible support to me since the day I met him,” she added.

“Being without him during such a stressful event made me terrified I would go back to square one.

“But with his support since coming out of hospital, and being able to talk openly about my experience to friends and family, [I] feel so much better.”

This content was originally published here.

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