Birthing During Covid: Some Important Things to Know
image by: Michelle Mildenberg
Things have changed this year in 2020. There is no denying that. So what does that mean for your labor and delivery?
Well, your first step is choosing what route you will take. We wrote a blog about choosing a care provider and you can find it here. After you do that, one of your next questions may be, what will the birth look like?
We think the most important thing, in all cases, is communication! Hospital policies seem to be changing constantly and we have found that some midwife policies are changing too. Many people are left feeling uncertain at these times and doctors and midwives are not excluded from this. Now more than ever it is of utmost importance to interview many different care providers and ask ALL your questions to make sure the provider is the right fit for you. We may even suggest creating your desired birth plan early and presenting it during interviews so that you can know upfront who is willing to help you see that through, and so there are no surprises later. After you find the right care provider for you, you can hone in (if you haven't already) on your vision for your birth.
Let's talk about homebirth first. In a homebirth you usually have full control over your environment: who is invited, what you are doing, what you are allowed to eat, and generally everything else. Now, we say usually because some homebirth midwives have changed what they will allow at the births they are attending. Maybe those changes are why you hire that midwife. For instance, in lieu of COVID, some midwives are requesting that a laboring woman wear a mask or that doulas and other hired professionals (such as birth photographers) can only be there in early labor before the midwife arrives or after the midwife leaves upon delivery. Some midwives are only/mostly meeting over Zoom calls.
There are pros and cons to pretty much everything in life and COVID and the varied policies and responses to it have required everyone to be incredibly flexible. This is why we cannot express enough that communication and plans made and agreed to are discussed before you even hire your care provider. After you know what to expect you can flow through your pregnancy and into your labor with ease knowing you have your desired route, while staying flexible in the face of the unexpected.
OB care and hospitals are requiring just as much of that flexibility. Make sure you are staying updated with your desired hospital’s inevitably changing policies. For instance, most local Tucson hospitals are allowing your partner and a trained doula into your birth space but no other visitors. They are requiring everyone on the birth team to wear at least a face mask, possibly full COVID PPE (mask, gown, hair covering, foot covering etc.). They seem to be leaving mama free from such PPE requirements as long as everyone else is geared up. Right now, only the pregnant women seem to be allowed into doctor visits and ultrasound appointments. We encourage you to ask beforehand so you can take the necessary time to come to terms with such policies. Some advice we have that you should take the time to research and consider for yourself is:
Know your rights! Understand that YOU are in control of your body and have final say over what happens to you and your baby. Educate yourself, take time to create a birth plan, and know your options because ultimately you are the one that wants 100% what is the best for you. If, in the process of asking questions and standing your ground on what type of care you desire, your care provider demonstrates some unwillingness to work with you, know that you have the power to change providers (should you be up for it and it makes sense financially). Doulas are wonderful people to consult if this is a course of action you feel called to make (see #6).
1. Do not feel pressured to make a quick decision. We recommend using your B.R.A.I.N - Assessing...
- B: benefits
- R: risks
- A: alternatives
- I: your intuition
- N: what if you say No or do Nothing (in regards to a recommendation)
2. Labor at home as much as possible! If you are low risk, home is the safest and most comfortable place for you until it is time to transfer to your birth destination (that is, if you are transferring).
3. Let labor begin naturally. Studies like this show how beautifully our bodies are designed to have babies without unnecessary medical intervention and how our natural hormones are really our best allies in labor. Yes, there is a time and place for emergency assistance. However, most of the time birth is normal and safe. It’s challenging but you can do it - we’ve been doing it for thousands of years!
4. Have a support system. Lots of mamas prepare for the pregnancy and birth but somehow the postpartum can get overlooked. Set up support systems now and accept help when people offer. We encourage you to reach out and ask what your family and friends are willing to do to help you, then write it down and make a list so that you know you are supported. It could help you ask for help if you had your friends and family specify a couple different tasks they’d be willing to assist you so when that need arises you will have an easier time calling on them.
5. Hire a doula. Studies show that hiring a doula can make labor go more quickly and with less medical interventions. Doulas are best able to serve pregnant people and their partners when hired prenatally so they can educate and direct you toward your most empowered selves, ensuring your medical care is best aligned for your desires. Hands-on and emotional support are central to the care a doula provides during labor. Interview around and find someone who you connect with and want to get close to.
6. If you are at the hospital, leave as soon as you can. It is bright and loud and cold. Bring your baby home as soon as you possibly can so you both can feel relaxed and ground into your new lives together.
7. Consider having your placenta encapsulated. There is evidence to support how helpful this can be! It can help balance hormones (which if left unattended is linked to postpartum mood disorders), replenish your body of nutrients lost in delivery, help stop bleeding and so much more. To inquire about this option for Tucson, AZ, check out our support page here where our Placenta Specialist Julia McCool explains her process. If you are not local, try asking around or Googling ‘placenta encapsulation services near you’.
With the worldwide changes happening to everyday life, it may seem as though there have been a lot of those exciting first-time-parent experiences that are just not available right now, or have changed from what you've been dreaming of. We see you!
Going through pregnancy, birth and postpartum is (at times) challenging enough without being in a pandemic. Some days may feel more frustrating and overwhelming, and that's ok! Feel that!
Feel all of it but do your best to keep educating yourself and learning all the things you are in control of. Reach out to those around you, don’t walk this road alone. Whoever your people are, be open and honest and if you need to feel more seen than that, find a local support group. Our amazing friend, Rhonda Anderson, has a weekly support group that is free and open to all pregnant and postpartum mamas. We will link the info here. It is a Zoom call so you don't have to be local!
We truly hope this post was helpful and if you have more questions or need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our email is email@example.com