This post was written by Juna Advisor & Labor Nurse, Liesel Teen (@mommy.labornurse).
Well, mama here you are. Pregnant during a pandemic with your due date getting closer. Are you wondering how to prepare?
I actually know exactly what you’re going through because I ALSO gave birth during the pandemic! What’s more, as a labor and delivery nurse, I supported mamas who birthed in the early days of COVID, too.
Some of you may be feeling extra anxious about this aspect of birth, and that’s okay! Birth often creates a sense of fear or anxiety in mamas – even during normal times. The unknowns related to the pandemic can compound these feelings.
Here I’m going to talk about the things you can do to better prepare for birth during the pandemic.
Key Things To Know
• Erasing as many unknowns as possible
• Asking lots of questions
• Taking advantage of online tools and resources to better prepare
While it might not be the birth you originally imagined, I KNOW you can still have a positive birth experience with the right preparations in place.
Ask lots of questions about your hospital’s (ever changing) policies
Like I mentioned above, I want your main goal for preparing for birth during the pandemic to be erasing unknowns! Birth has ENOUGH unknowns without throwing in the dynamic of COVID, am I right?
Luckily, through discussion and questions, you can get yourself super educated about what to expect from your birth in terms of policies and rules well before your labor starts. Because the situation is constantly evolving and policies vary from state to state, and even county to county, your number one tool is going to be asking LOTS of questions.
A strong sense of understanding about what’s going to be allowed and not allowed during your labor, delivery, and your hospital stay, will definitely boost your confidence. You’ll be able to plan for logistics related to your birth better if you know these things sooner than later.
Here are some policy/COVID rule related questions to get you started:
• Is there a limit to the number of people that can be in the room while I labor?
• What screenings will my partner need to undergo before accompanying me during labor and delivery? Temperature check, rapid COVID test, symptom screening, etc.
• Are there rules surrounding my partner’s ability to come and go from the hospital during my labor and hospital stay after birth? Once he’s there does he have to stay put? Can he come and go to help care for pets or other children at home?• What is the mask policy in the hospital and within individual rooms for labor, delivery and the hospital stay after birth? Specifically, do partners need to wear masks during labor and delivery?
• How are visitor policies effected by COVID rules and policies? Keep in mind that many hospitals aren’t allowing any visitors at this time
• Are doulas permitted to provide labor and delivery support during this time? What pre-screenings do doulas need to undergo?
• Are there any limits on pain management strategies and options due to COVID? Some facilities are limiting the use of Nitrous and walking the halls during labor
Try to do a virtual hospital tour
Even in regular times, I’m a big advocate for hospital tours because they help mamas visualize where their birth will take place! This is such an important tool for labor prep and erasing some of the unknowns associated with birth.
A hospital tour will give you an idea of labor room sizes, bathroom features, and access to non-medical pain management props and tools. Hospital tours often spark other questions related birth and are an all-around wonderful step towards a more positive birth experience.
In-person tours are mostly cancelled, but many facilities have virtual alternatives. In some cases, these are pre-recorded video tours, but others are hosting live walk throughs. I love this because you can ask questions in real-time just like at an in-person tour.
In short, I’m urging you – don’t skip this just because it’s virtual! I know how powerful visualization is when it comes to labor prep, and a virtual tour is definitely going to help
As for the timing? Plan to do your virtual hospital tour around the same time your provider wants you to start working on your birth plan (usually between 30-35 weeks pregnant).
Doing these things hand in hand will make them both more productive! This is also a great time to take your birth course.
Take advantage of online learning tools to get prepared for birth.
One of my greatest passions as a labor and delivery nurse, and over in the Mommy Labor Nurse community, is education surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. Because I KNOW that education is the key to a better birth.
Because I know how effective education is in erasing the unknowns and easing fear surrounding birth, you better believe that it might be even MORE effective during these uncertain times.
I know that most (okay, all?) in-person classes related to pregnancy, birth and newborn care have been cancelled. But luckily there are SO many amazing resources online. Another huge perk of enrolling in online education is that you’ll connect with other women going through the exact same thing you are.
Birth classes, newborn care classes, lactation support classes, community support groups and forums, prenatal classes, and prenatal fitness are all available online in some capacity. Get informed, mama!
Grieve the loss of your expectations for pregnancy and birth
Mama, your expectations of your birth are probably changing. I know your pregnancy journey has probably been a bit different than you expected. You may not have had the baby shower you hoped for, and you might not be getting the chance to celebrate this exciting time in conventional ways.
With birth approaching some of these realities might be hitting even harder. Your birth is going to be a little different than during normal times. I want you to make space to process this and feel your feelings about it! You can grieve the pregnancy and birth you expected, but still find joy in the experience.
Hospitals and birth centers around the country are working hard to create positive and meaningful birth experiences for mamas even in the era of COVID. And with the creative use of technology, you can still let loved ones see baby right away and check in on you at the hospital.
Things like meal trains, friends picking up and doing laundry, and regular Zoom sessions are all no-contact ways to feel supported in your postpartum days, too!
Use your best judgement to keep you and your baby healthy and safe
Above all, mama, follow YOUR intuition and do what’s right for you! Education, discussion, and questions are going to be more important than ever, but above all I want to remind you not to feel pressured by ANYONE to do something you aren’t comfortable with!
Whether that’s an in-law pressuring you to let them visit in-person, or a provider not supporting an aspect of your birth wishes. Or something in between!
And honestly, I hope you’ll carry that with you beyond your birth and the newborn days. Because mama intuition is real. Only YOU know what’s best for you, your baby, and your family. Honor and trust yourself, mama. You’re gonna rock this birth!