Labor and Delivery is always a roller coaster. Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth baby, the experience is always different and when you throw Covid-19 into the mix it can be really stressful! I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse for 10 years now, and I delivered my own pandemic baby in May 2020 so I have been there and I get it. It’s a weird time.
I think the first thing to realize is that having a baby during this time is going to be different and that’s ok. And it’s ok to grieve the experience that you thought you were going to have versus what is going to happen. I always thought that my daughter would meet our new baby in the hospital, and we would get that cute little family photo in our hospital room and it wasn’t able to happen. When I gave birth only your support person was allowed to be at the hospital and they weren’t supposed to leave at all (even to go get food or coffee… they even ordered my husband a hospital tray, so that there was no reason to leave our room). It was hard to explain to my 4 year old why she couldn’t come to meet her new sister in the hospital, but we had many conversations about “all the germs” in the world right now and so she understood.
Know what the restrictions are in your hospital. Ask your primary care provider what are the current covid restrictions at the place where you are giving birth. Do you have to wear a mask? Does your support person have to wear a mask? Are you tested for covid upon admission? Is it the nasopharyngeal swab (that goes way up your nose) or are you able to get a gargle covid test? Are you allowed visitors? If so, what are the restrictions? Knowledge is power and so the more you know, the more confidence you will feel in the birthing process by tailoring your expectations to align with the current policies at your birthing center.
Find the joy in the experience. While I was sad not to introduce my older daughter to our new baby girl in hospital, I loved the fact that we got uninterrupted cuddles with our newborn daughter. It was nice not having to coordinate a whole parade of family and friends coming to the hospital to meet our new baby. It was easier to get acquainted with our new daughters feeding cues because my husband or myself was always holding our baby. Breastfeeding was easier to establish because of all the uninterrupted skin-to-skin time. I felt as though I was actually able to rest and recover after birth because there were very few interruptions. I even remember feeling slightly bored with “nothing to do” in the hospital as my husband was holding our sleeping newborn and I had already scrolled through all the social media on my phone.
I thought that maybe people wouldn’t want to visit us at home, but I found the experience was better. People would drop off food at our doorstep, take a look at our new baby through the window, not smother our baby in kisses. We were able to control who came over and when people left.
Identify your village of support before having your baby. Who do you have to rely on to come and help hold your baby when you need a break? Where can you go to find reliable advice? Sleep deprivation can make it difficult to think rationally, so have a list of people and sources you trust to find answers for your questions. Looking for professional support? Contact your local Mama Coach, we have newborn packages and can help support you virtually or with in-person options.
And so yes, while it was hard to deliver a baby during a pandemic, by grieving what I knew I would be missing out on, by finding the positives in our delivery experience, and getting support from our village I was able to enjoy this postpartum experience even while the world was upside down.