Birth During a Pandemic, How is it Different?
The past year has brought a host of changes with it that have been quite unwelcome for most people. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on economies around the world, thrown millions out of work, and turned much of the way we work and live on its head.
For some, this change has been welcome, and for some, not so much. It has made life more complicated, even at the simplest levels. Going to the grocery store requires bringing and wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer at multiple steps of the process, and staying socially distanced through the whole process. If something so simple can be made complicated when a health pandemic strikes, how is something so much more complicated like childbirth different during a pandemic?
You will need to choose a delivery location close to you and one that has everything needed for delivering your baby. Likely, you have already chosen a hospital or medical center. Another thing to consider during this process is whether the delivery location is equipped to handle a birth during the pandemic and whether you will feel comfortable there.
It is highly recommended that a support person accompany you to the hospital, and be there for the birth of your child, during and after. Outcomes are often improved by having someone with you. Unfortunately, due to the current health pandemic, many hospitals or medical centers are not allowing anyone to accompany you.
It is best to check the visiting policy of your delivery location ahead of time so that you know what to expect. If you are not ok with their visiting policy, then it is best to choose another location as long as it suits you and has the capability of protecting both you and your baby with the necessary precautions such as personal protective equipment and isolated spaces for the delivery.
Due to the policies around visitors and the person that may want to accompany you, your delivery location may have specific policies around food and how to get it. To keep everything sanitized, most hospitals and medical centers will wrap their food in plastic as well as any cutlery.
There will also likely be restrictions on when and where any visitors can get food. In some cases, your support person may not be able to leave for food or clothes to reduce the risk of exposure or infection to the coronavirus. You and your support person should plan to stay in the hospital for a few days at least.
What to Expect When Arriving
When you arrive at the hospital or medical center, you will likely be rushing and everything will be very exciting. At the same time, you might be nervous because of the pandemic. Luckily, hospitals are a sanitary and controlled environment in which to give birth, and you can trust that they will have the necessary precautions in place to protect you, your baby, and your support person.
Who is Allowed In the Room?
Your support person may or may not be allowed in the room with you, and this will largely depend on the delivery location’s policy. Since you will both need to be tested before entering, if your support person tests positive for the coronavirus, then it is unlikely they will be allowed in the hospital, let alone the delivery room.
While in the room, social distancing (as much as possible) will be necessary. Your support person will be allowed in the room, but will likely need to stand away from the delivery area as the nurses and doctors are working.
Measures In Place to Protect Mother and Baby
The hospital is focused on protecting all patients, so you will not need to worry about your health as long as you follow the safety guidelines they have put in place. Personal protective equipment will be used by nurses and doctors, and sanitization and social distancing are paramount in any medical setting.
You might also need to wear a mask to help protect the health of the nurses and doctors assisting in the birth of your baby. It may be uncomfortable, and make the delivery more awkward, but protecting the healthcare workers who are protecting you is paramount to everyone’s health and safety during this pandemic.
What About Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding shouldn’t be an issue if you have been infected with or test positive for the coronavirus. Your healthcare professional will be able to advise you on what to do and whether you should or should not breastfeed.
Expect the Unexpected
It is normal to have a plan and want to be prepared for the birth of your child. It is the beginning of a new life and you have prepared both literally and in your mind for this special moment. Although your plan is in place, you should expect things to change.
The pandemic has upended many normal things in our lives, and with that has come to the complication of managing the health risks of the coronavirus while trying to live a normal life. Anxiety and concern are normal through all of this.
Expect the unexpected, and remember that your baby is only the one directing the plan, so don’t worry if something doesn’t happen the way you thought it would. Your doctors, nurses, and support person will all be there to help you along the way.