If you are pregnant, I bet you have run through the scenarios in your mind.
It’s three am, your water breaks, you wake your partner and head in to the hospital. You remember your bag, your pillow, your freezer bag full of colostrum. The anticipation of getting to meet your beautiful baby is overwhelming. There truly isn’t anything better.
But all of a sudden the scenario looks so much different. The world is dealing with the impacts of Covid-19, and what does that mean for your birth?
First and foremost, the nurses and doctors who will care for you are still there. They are committed to providing a safe environment for you and your baby. And the nurses on birth units.. I am biased because I have 15 years of labour and delivery experience and have had the privilege of working alongside them, but I will tell you, these are a special group of people. The level of commitment these nurses have for patients is unreal. They will support you through your birth, regardless of all that is happening. They will be your cheerleader, your advocate, and one of the professionals working together to provide you the safest experience. These nurses are kind, emotional, and committed to what they do. That part won’t look different, regardless of the pandemic that is happening right now. You will be supported.
The part that will look different is logistics. Every hospital is different and will have different policies regarding Covid-19. Let’s go over a few that you can likely expect to see when you arrive to give birth.
There will likely be someone screening at the door of the hospital
In order to protect all the patients in the hospital, and to prevent the spread of Covid-19, hospitals are being very careful on deciding who can enter. This doesn’t mean they will turn you away at the door! They may ask if you have symptoms of an illness (fever, cough, sore throat, feeling unwell), if you are on self-isolation, or if you have been tested for Covid-19 and are waiting results, or if you have been tested positive for Covid-19. If you answer yes to any of these questions, your health care team is going to maintain “droplet precautions”, which means they will wear gowns over their scrubs, a mask, eyewear and gloves to protect themselves and others from possible transmission. But they will still support you.
Visitors will be restricted
This is a tough one. Families gather when welcoming life into the world. But for everyone’s safety, the number of visitors will likely look very different than when we weren’t dealing with Covid-19. This is something you want to check with your hospital about (or click here for your local Mama Coach who can help you find the answer). Most facilities are implementing a one or two person maximum during labour and birth, and those people can not come and go, and can not switch out. The waiting room will likely be closed. Your support people will have to be healthy and well. If your support person answers yes to any of the questions above, they likely won’t be allowed in to your birth. I understand how heart wrenching this could be if your partner is sick and has to miss the birth. Awful. The best thing you can do is make a back up plan. Now. Even if your support person is well. Who else can be “your person” in labour. Ask two or three more so that you have options if something was to happen to your partner the day you go into labour. You will still be supported.
Pain management could look a little different
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can be an awesome source of pain relief for labouring women. It is often used as women transition (go from 8 cm to fully dilated), and works great for women who have made it that far and just need a little boost to make it to the finish line of 10 cm so they can start to push. That being said, you technically can use it at any stage of labour, and lots of women use it and it works. The challenge with Nitrous Oxide in labour is that it is breathed in through a mask or a “pipe”, and is risky because it aerosolizes, causing potential for the virus to become present in the air, instead of in droplets from your nose or mouth when you cough or sneeze. So most hospitals have removed this option to ensure the virus does not go into the air in the hospital. There also may be some delays with anesthesia, (the doctors that give epidurals) if they are busy with emergencies and all resources are being used. This isn’t a for sure thing, but something to keep in mind. Feel ready by taking our virtual prenatal class where we will spend time showing you how to manage your pain through positioning and different techniques your partner can do to help you as you wait or if you are choosing no analgesia (pain relief) during your birth. Regardless, you will still be supported.
It is important to check with your facility or let us help you find these answers to your hospital, as they all have slightly different policies depending on where you live. We understand that the thought of your labour and birth is overwhelming and exciting, and now that we are all dealing with Covid-19, you are likely also scared. Remember those nurses I keep talking about? They will support you. As Mama Coaches and Registered Nurses, we will also support you by providing education and support. If you have any questions or would like to take our virtual prenatal class, reach out here. They are discounted and will cover what to expect in your health region with Covid-19, managing pain in labour, your birth, and bringing baby home. We understand you feel anxious, and want to support you.
Sending so much love your way, mamas.