There may be one born every minute, but every pregnancy and all births are different - and that's especially true during a pandemic. Just a few days before St Patrick's Day, when the restrictions that would dominate life for the coming months were about to be announced, photographer Emily Quinn discovered she was pregnant. Already parents to Dylan (13), it was the much longed for news that she and her partner Niall had hoped for, after going through the pain of six miscarriages and IVF.
Thanks to new regulations aimed at controlling the spread of Covid-19, Niall had to wait in the hospital car park while Emily had a nervous 12-week scan that confirmed all was well. At a time when they both longed to embrace friends and family and share their incredible news, close contact was out.
"I haven't been able to hug my mum and that's been hard," says Emily. "I get a lot of hugs off my boys and they've been great, but everything tips me off. The world at the moment just gets me upset and I worry about what's going to happen."
And yet, along with the concerns around bringing a new life into the world in the time of Covid-19, there are some surprising positives to a pandemic pregnancy, too.
"If I've needed a two-hour snooze in the afternoon, then I've had it, guilt-free," says Emily, smiling. "Normally I'd be working, rushing around, but now there's no better time to just stay calm, stay at home, wash your hands and rest. I don't feel like I've ever really allowed myself to do that before."
Her experience got her thinking about the other families navigating births in these uncertain times and a desire to document some of the heart-warming stories of new life and hope at a time when so much of the news agenda is bleak.
"I think it's important to have good stories right now," she explains. "A little bit of light in a dark time." Personally, she feels an overwhelming sense that this was the time she was meant to conceive. "I just feel really lucky," she says simply. "I decided this would be the last time we tried, and here we are. It feels like it was meant to be and I think everything is going to be OK."
Thanks to home workouts and embracing her baby bubble, model Teodora Sutra reckons she's never been calmer than she was when pregnant in lockdown.
In a way, it was just really nice! It got me to relax, sit at home and chill, go for walks. I honestly think the baby came out super relaxed because I had no stress, no work - it was like a holiday. For me, it was actually a positive and the weather was so good.
All the midwives I saw at my visits said to keep working out and stay active, that you need to be physically fit and have energy for the birth. So that definitely gave me something positive to focus on. I'm very lucky, my partner James [Norton] built a gym in our back garden and it really felt like I was getting out of the house and going to the gym.
I started getting strong contractions at 6pm on June 30. On the phone, the hospital said it was OK for James to come in because the contractions were so close, I was obviously in labour. But when I got in, I wasn't in labour; I wasn't dilated. I couldn't believe I was in so much pain and nothing was happening.
They sent James back home - luckily we live just 10 minutes' drive from Holles Street - and I got some pain relief. To be honest, I was happy we were both getting a rest and I know he felt bad that he couldn't really do anything. At 4am my waters broke, and Isabella was born on July 1.
Friends and family have come to visit, but no one has held her, bar me and my partner. I think it's good; people are a lot more respectful of your space and giving you space and not bothering you. I honestly just feel like I'm in my own little bubble and happy. All we have to worry about is being healthy and keeping the baby safe and happy - that's all that matters.
In April, Yvonne and her husband, Eoghan O'Mara Walsh, welcomed their newborn daughter, Isla, into the world. But the moment was tinged with sadness as, just 11 days earlier, Eoghan's beloved mother, Eileen, had passed away. Because of visitor restrictions in hospitals, the first time Yvonne saw her husband after his mother's funeral was in the delivery room.
It's been a strange and crazy time, a bit of a roller coaster. Eileen had been diagnosed with cancer back in August; it was her third bout, but she had been doing well and was responding to treatment. She was looking forward to her second grandchild and she was so close to our eldest daughter, Ava (two, pictured above). But in February, the treatment stopped working. She was taken into hospital and there were two weeks when we couldn't visit her. During that time, she was told there was nothing more they could do for her. The fact that we were able to bring her back to her home and her own surroundings is something I'll be forever thankful for.
On April 6, Eoghan went to spend the day with his mum and I went for my 36-week check-up. We'd decided to get the consultant to write down and put in an envelope whether we were having a boy or a girl, and the plan was for me to go out to [Eileen and Eoghan] and we'd find out all together, but we never got to open the envelope.
Eileen passed away with Eoghan by her side that day. It was so sudden in the end. The funeral was on the Monday, but there were just 10 of us there and a 10-minute sermon - she deserved so much more.
I had to be admitted on the Tuesday. I was in hospital for a week and Eoghan couldn't visit, nor could Ava, even though she had her second birthday during that time. When I was induced, Eoghan was allowed in for the delivery - maybe half an hour - and then he had to go home. Looking back at it all, I kind of can't believe we got through it. My mum had to get a letter from the hospital allowing her to drive from Tipperary to Dublin to mind Ava. She's keeping it as a memento to show Isla when she's older: 'Please let this woman through the checkpoint, her daughter's having a baby!'
Clodagh O'Hagan is now mum to her 'miracle baby' Frank, after becoming pregnant via sperm donor. But being a single parent in the time of Covid-19 has brought both unexpected benefits and concerns.
Being pregnant in Covid, I wouldn't say it was 'good' but it definitely helped in terms of Fomo - if no-one else is doing anything, then you can't feel like you're missing out!
I'd a planned section as Frank was breech, and my sister was my birthing partner. She was waiting in the car outside the hospital, waiting for the nod to come in. She was allowed to stay with me in the recovery room afterwards, then off she went.
The hospital felt very calm. In some ways, because my birth was perhaps different to other people's, the fact that I wasn't in a ward with all mams and dads afterwards felt it kind of levelled the playing field. It was just the mums with their babies. I always try to look at the positives and I looked at it as us all being in the same boat, where the most important thing was for the babies to be safe.
I'm very lucky in that my job is secure, but the first weeks of the pandemic were very anxious in terms of vulnerability and job security. Ultimately, it's just me. I'm responsible for everything to do with me and my baby, providing for us... and what if something should happen?
At the end of pregnancy, it was easy to cocoon but I feel if the same restrictions were reintroduced now, it would be quite scary. Getting out for a walk to a cafe, joining groups that are set up to support and help you along the way - you need that, and it gives life a bit of structure.
But I also feel lockdown has allowed me to stay in a bubble. I keep up to date to a certain extent on what's going on, but I maybe don't fully get into it because I am sheltering us in our bubble for now, getting through the day.
Frank is a little miracle, and because he's such a little miracle, I feel you could throw anything at me now and we'll just be grand with it. We'll pivot because, at the end of the day, all that matters is that he's here and he's safe.
If it hadn't been for a line on a pregnancy test, Amy Byrne and her partner, Frankie Moore (pictured above), might have been in Thailand right now - or more likely, trying to get their money back from a cancelled holiday of a lifetime.
We hadn't been trying for a baby - in fact, we were planning to go to Thailand and saving up. My cycle isn't regular so I've taken pregnancy tests before in the past and they've always been negative - but this time it was positive!
We were absolutely delighted but when the pandemic started, it was scary, too. I didn't know if I could see my family. Do we go outside? I'm close to my mam and wondered if I should I stay with her.
There were definitely days of me panicking, and it was scary trying to figure out what lockdown was going to mean for us. Sitting inside, it's easy to get upset thinking about all the crazy things that could happen: what if I get it? What if the baby gets it? But then Frankie would say to me, 'Come on, let's take the dogs for a walk and just get outside'.
We were out for a walk when my waters broke, a week after my due date. I ended up having to have an emergency C-section. When I phoned Frankie to say he needed to come in, he was almost there before I'd hung up. His mum lives down the road from Holles Street and I think he must have run the whole way. But he could only stay two hours in recovery and then I was alone with our baby daughter, Lola.
The midwives were lovely, but it was hard. I didn't know what to do and could only stare at her. I was on the phone crying to Mam and FaceTiming Frankie and crying. It was tough, I just wanted to be close to someone and I was counting down the days until we could go home.
I feel lucky that, because of the pandemic, Frankie was able to spend more time at home with us than he would have had with paternity leave. And it's funny to think that we might have been in Thailand and not able to get home, or lost the money. I do think everything happens for a reason and Thailand will have to wait.
After battling the mumps in her first trimester, then high blood pressure and extremely low iron in her third, busy mum-of-two Emer O'Neill, who works as a teacher, model and activist, made the difficult decision to take early maternity leave - then lockdown hit.
Part of me didn't feel as bad about not being at work because everyone was off. But then another bit of me was like, 'Really? I would have been off anyway. This is my maternity leave?'
I was in the high-risk category, so I couldn't go out, but it was fine. We're lucky to have a back garden and we were blessed with the weather. I'd actually taken a course just before lockdown on meditation and stress relief, which was lucky, because there was a lot of time to think, wondering, 'What is this birth going to be like?' I'd given birth before [to Kyan, now six, pictured above] and I knew what that looked like, but what would it look like now, during a pandemic?
In the end, my husband, Sean, was there for the birth, but he wasn't able to be with me for the three hours of labour prior to that, when the hard work - when you need someone rubbing your back - was done. I called him when the baby was coming saying, 'I can't do this without you', and he legged it up from the car park. He got to hold our little girl, Sunny Rae, for 30 minutes and then he was sent home.
Because Sunny Rae had a rash and I had high blood pressure, we ended up being kept in hospital for six days. Sean didn't see his daughter again until she was a week old. I try not to dwell on it, but I feel bad that he missed that first week of her life when she was so tiny. It was tough, but I was very aware there were women around me going through worse, so I just had to cop on and say, 'You're lucky compared to some folk, so get on with it'.
With nowhere to go IRL, Laura Cunningham embraced sharing her pregnancy and newborn baby Ziggy on Instagram, where he already has a hoard of adoring 'online aunties'.
I have little chats with him where I'm like, 'Sorry for bringing you into this sh*tshow, hopefully it will all be OK! You're the most loved little man ever, so you'll be fine'.
Obviously, it's been a hugely difficult time for so many people, but I'd say I've tried to run with the positives. Being in lockdown during pregnancy was a unique opportunity to press pause on a lot of things and a time to realise what was important and take a step back.
I had to have a C-section, and I was in hospital from Monday to Friday and it was kind of a nice time just to be by ourselves. I had a room to myself and time to learn how to be a mam without having to worry about people coming in and [having to] entertain them. I felt completely safe knowing there was a nurse outside the door if I needed them.
When I got home, I was very lucky that my best friend, who was my birth partner, stayed with me practically every night for two weeks and Ziggy's dad was here every day. Now things are easing, we can go to the park and meet friends and family at a distance for coffee.
I did my antenatal classes online and, since I wasn't able to have any kind of baby shower, I felt a bit like it made it more real for me when I was able to talk about it online. A lovely girl who follows me on Instagram said it was like Ziggy has loads of online aunties, and I liked that. Obviously, I have an amazing network of friends and family in real life, but I thought it was a nice idea.
Babies are still being born and families are still loving each other in spite of all the madness.