Updated: Sep 17
Because policies are changing by the minute — and many parents' birth plans have been upended by COVID-19.
Feeling unnerved by the uncertainty around having a baby? Here are some logistical and emotional coping strategies that may help during the coronavirus pandemic.
Talk to your provider about the nitty-gritty of their policies — as they are right now.
Again, birth policies are constantly changing, and can vary wildly even between neighboring institutions. Now is the time to have an in-depth conversation with your OB-GYN or midwife about what their office and the hospitals policies are right now. That’s always a good idea, but right now it’s particularly important to be specific.
Your care provider will obviously be talking to you about any big policy changes around things like scheduled C-sections. But you might want to ask about other aspects of birth that have changed specifically as a result of the pandemic. Especially in regards to the hospital/birthing center you will be delivering at. Do they have any specific guidance around laboring at home before you head to the hospital — and how might that have changed? What about other forms of pain management? Some hospitals are relying on anesthesiologists to help COVID-19 patients, which could affect how and when they give epidurals, for example. Have any of the policies around laboring in a tub or shower at the hospital/birthing center changed? (Some have taken away the use a birthing tub regardless to the necessary sanitizing that would be required of the hospital after use.)
Be ready to advocate for yourself.
Get comfortable advocating for yourself. With fewer people on hand to support a new parent, you should be ready and able to voice your wishes and concerns. A lot of pregnant individuals feel like they aren’t able to be their own advocate. Doctors and nurses are more in the power situation in labor and delivery since they see birth every day. Pregnant individuals don’t know what to expect and don’t realize they have the right to speak up, but they do. Even if you don’t feel like you are being heard, keep speaking up and expressing what you need until you are heard.
Create a very specific virtual plan.
If you have a smartphone, tablet or a laptop (or any combination), now is the time to think about how they can help you before, during and after birth.
Many doulas, for example, have begun working with clients virtually. So they can provide support while you’re in labor, even if they’re not physically in the room. Of course, technology becomes even more important if you find yourself delivering somewhere with a policy that doesn’t allow a support person.
Ask yourself: What devices will you use? Do you have some kind of stand, or could you get one? If not, where would you set up a laptop or tablet? Will you have WiFi, or how will you get online? Do you have chargers packed in your go-bag?
Know you can always explore other options — but safety is important.
If you are concerned about your current childbirth plans, you could look into transferring to a new provider or practice. According to social media posts, more and more pregnant individuals are looking into home birth, for example.
But switching care providers during pregnancy can be very challenging, even under less extraordinary circumstances. Many care providers have policies about accepting new patients — and those policies are in flux as COVID-19 disrupts many birth plans. You’ll have to consider issues like insurance, transferring records, and more. It is also essential to understand the potential risks associated with home birth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers hospitals and accredited birth centers the safest options. Do your research and find a midwife who you completely trust to assist with your labor and delivery.
Use these strategies to remind yourself that you’re not alone.
Labor and delivery aren’t the only things changing because of COVID-19. Social distancing now means that many laboring people won’t have friends or family around to meet the baby soon after birth, or to lend an all-important helping hand during the postpartum period. In addition to having a clear plan about how to connect via technology before, during, and after birth, it can help them stay calm and centered if they plan to surround themselves with comforting items.
If you do find yourself laboring alone — or sitting in a recovery room, wishing that your mom could be there with you, for example — it could help to think of the people who have done this before you. Think of everyone you know who’ve delivered on their own. Maybe think of military spouses who have done it while their significant other are deployed. Draw some strength from them. Also remember that your care providers will do whatever they can to help you through this.
Local Middle Georgia hospital labor & delivery restrictions are linked below. Keep an eye out for changes before your upcoming labor.
Atrim Health (Navicent):
Piedmont Healthcare (Coliseum):
Novant Health: Coronavirus safety measures at Novant Health