Updated: Apr 9, 2020
You may have started preparing for labor months ago but I am sure no one's plan included what to do while in the middle of a health pandemic. COVID-19 or Coronavirus took our health care system into a whirlwind and information is constantly changing. However, there are a few things you can do in order to better prepare yourself for the current realities and challenges of giving birth in the time of COVID-19.
1. Acknowledge your feelings.
It is absolutely okay and appropriate to feel upset, anxious and afraid right now. Take time to acknowledge how you are feeling. Talk to your family, friends, birth partner and/or medical professional about how this makes you feel. However, remember that your baby also feels your feelings and that it is important to minimize stress. The experience of birth always includes many unknowns despite of how well you plan. You are resilient and you will adjust just as you have adjusted to every challenge related to pregnancy thus far. It is important to remember your strength in moments of chaos.
2. Reach out to your health care provider.
If you have specific concerns about your state of health and risk, it is important to discuss this with your provider. While general advice for pregnant women can be found on the CDC website, your provider is familiar with your specific state of health. This is the best person to turn to with questions at this time.
3. Stay up to date with policy changes at the facility where you will be giving birth.
Whether you are giving birth at home, at a birth center or in the hospital, providers are adjusting their policies to help you deliver as safely as possible. It is important to discuss what policies have been changed in order to prevent spread of the virus. Ensure that you adhere to these policies. If you have tried calling your facility without success, remember to also check their website for updates. Many providers have longer call waiting times but may have updated their websites to reflect changes.
4. Talk to your health care team about current COVID-19 precautions.
Ask your health care team (including your doula and midwife) about what precautions they may be taking to minimize risk of exposure. This may include them wearing full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), limiting at home visits and asking for you to labor at home for as long as possible before coming to your birth facility.
5. Ask about postpartum exams.
Many providers have now turned to using Telehealth for appointments while some providers are still seeing patients in person but with adjustments being made to minimize exposure. It is important to clarify what the plan is with the understanding that this may change as more information becomes available.
6. Search for a pediatrician now.
Many providers may be unable to take on new patients and some may be able to accommodate you. It is important to have a pediatrician in place so that your baby can have their regular check ups following birth. Take this time to make a few calls and do some research regarding providers and their office policies.
7. Adjust your birth plan based on the information available.
You may have prepared for more than one person to attend your baby's birth but now that many facilities have limited birthing persons to one support person, make sure that point person is familiar with your birth plan and desires. Talk about what you are and are not willing to compromise on.
8. Look for a doula.
A doula is a non-medical trained professional who can provide you with emotional support and guidance throughout your reproductive journey. Many doulas, like Doulicious Nutrition, are still providing birthing persons with services whether it is in person or virtual. Please remember to also discuss what safety precautions and service adjustments your doula is making in response to COVID-19.
9. Center yourself. You many need to do this daily, weekly or monthly. Do this as often as you need to. Remind yourself that you will be as ready as possible. Remind yourself that you are capable. Remind yourself that you have the skills to overcome any challenge. You will be safe. You will be flexible. You've got this. It is so important to remember your power at this time and to practice all of those breathing techniques you learned during your childbirth classes. Make space for your relaxation techniques now in order to help with the stress of planning.
10. Ask for help.
Ask your family, birth partner and/or doula for help as you plan and prepare for these challenges. It may be helpful to ask one person to call your birth facility while you research pediatricians. Having some assistance helps relieve the pressure of having to do so much. We know that while this time may be challenging, the goal of you having a safe delivery has never changed. This continues to be the main focus of everyone who is caring for and supporting you.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to replace the advice of your medical professional. Please note that information related to COVID-19 is subject to change and questions regarding your care should always be discussed with your doctor and/or midwife.
NYS Department of Health