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Being Pregnant (And Delivering!) During a Pandemic

The landscape of prenatal and postpartum care has evolved quickly over the last few weeks. In response to COVID-19, healthcare providers are creating new policies that have a significant impact on the birthing family. This creates a complex moment in history to be expecting a new baby: You may be grieving the loss of your ideal birth plan or feel unsure what birth in a hospital will look like. You may be trying to protect your joy and excitement amid global anxieties. Whatever your situation or emotions embrace them. Then, take a deep breath – You’ve got this. Below are some ways that you can maintain agency in your birth and shore up support in this pandemic.
Mom with newborn baby

Pregnancy During Coronavirus Pandemic

  • Do Your Research – Because they may not alert you directly, visit your healthcare provider and hospital’s website for their updated policies regarding having a partner allowed in the room, perhaps being limited to one visitor, or whether or not children will be allowed to visit.
  • Advocate and Communicate – Be sure you notify your provider of your birth preferences. Share evidence if you disagree with a policy. At the hospital, enlist the help of your nurses, i.e., let them know if you have a fear of needles. Speak your needs!
  • Self Monitor – If your prenatal appointments are no longer in person, ask about self-monitoring options at home, i.e., blood pressure, weight, fetal heart tones, fundal height, and urine screens. Alert your healthcare provider if you plan to track any of these and if you have any unusual findings.
  • Monitor Baby – Listen to your baby’s heartbeat or track kick counts to keep tabs on baby, relax and bond. If you have them you can use a doppler, stethoscope, or an app. Your partner may even be able to hear the heartbeat late in pregnancy with just their ear!
  • Hire a Doula – Doulas provide virtual visits and can even support your birth remotely. They can also support you at home for many hours before you go to the hospital and upon your arrival home if it’s safe.
  • Plan Ahead – Complex problem solving is difficult when you have a new babe in arms! Planning your postpartum time while you are pregnant will bring you peace of mind as you get ready for delivery. Try and connect with therapists, lactation consultants, support groups, etc. who can meet remotely. Stock postpartum supplies for you and baby early, i.e., diapers, wipes, postpartum pads, and snacks. Deliveries are slow and items are not always in stock.
  • Practice Self-Care Often – Find time for calm and rest in your days. Hypnobabies is a great program to reduce stress in pregnancy, especially if you have less support.

Postpartum Tips: Going Home With A Newborn During COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Save Hospital Paperwork – Refer back to the discharge plan from your doctors and nurses once you are home. These will outline how to care for you and your baby as in the bustle of the hospital, you may not remember the information. It will also have important phone numbers for you to use in case you need them for virtual support.
  • Take Your Time – Don’t go back to work until you absolutely must. Don’t “just” jump on a call or send emails. It may be tempting, but it can disrupt bonding with your baby, not to mention stymie a much-needed nap!
  • Compile ResourcesMonti Kids Level 1 provides a learning curriculum from birth that guides and empowers parents to be their baby’s first teachers, all from the comfort of their home. 
  • Practice Self Care Often – Call a friend, take turns with your partner, take a walk, Facetime grandparents. All these activities will help mama and babe feel less isolated in these strange times. Fussy Baby Network also offers free warm line calls and support groups (during stay-at-home orders) for parents struggling with their infants’ crying, sleeping or feeding.
  • Maintain Perspective – Understand that while perusing social media this is a hard time for everyone and we may only see their wins right now. Take a break if you feel overwhelmed by any of it.

Remember: One day, this pandemic will be over. We’ll grocery shop with ease, friends will pop by with hugs and smiles, and your sweet baby will be sleeping in your arms. Until then, I have faith that with preparation, determination, and creativity, we can “flatten the curve” and have a smooth road to parenthood. 

Betsy Weber, CD (DONA), The Lake Bluff Doula

Betsy Weber, CD (DONA), The Lake Bluff Doula

Betsy began her birth work as a DONA postpartum doula in 2009. The following year, she also trained as a birth doula and began work as a nurse-midwife assistant. In all, she has attended about 50 home, birth center, and hospital births. She also received training in Neonatal Resuscitation, as a Breastfeeding Counselor, Certified Nurse Assistant, placenta encapsulation specialist, and ICEA Childbirth Educator. She now works as a community doula on the North Shore of Chicago with her husband and two sons, Kimball and Linus.

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