Giving Birth During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Pregnancy is a beautiful time for expecting moms, spouses and partners, friends, and family. You’re bringing a new son or daughter into the world and the excitement that surrounds the experience is hard to deny. Unfortunately, with the emergence of COVID-19, many new moms have been nervous to give birth in hospitals. While it’s completely understandable to have fears, hospitals are taking precautions to keep you and your baby happy and healthy during these tough times. It’s hard to know what to expect until you’re there, but here are some changes to the process and tips on giving birth during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Prenatal Checkups

During your pregnancy, you’ll still need to complete all of your prenatal checkups to ensure a healthy development. Since there has been a push for fewer in-office visits, doctors have been making amendments so that pregnant women can monitor their blood pressure at home and conduct telemedicine visits. This allows you to keep track of anything that might go wrong while giving you the opportunity to continue to ask questions as needed. If you do go in for an in-person visit, come prepared with the proper personal protective equipment, try to minimize touching high-touch surfaces and always wash your hands or sanitize on a regular basis. Avoid touching your face and upon returning home, change your clothes and wash them in hot water. While it seems excessive, pregnancy can put you at a higher risk for complications during COVID-19 and increase the likelihood of transmission to your developing baby.

Birth Plan Changes to Expect

While many women who have given birth during the COVID-19 outbreak haven’t had to deal with too many major changes, there are certain things to be aware of. When you have all of the information and have a better idea as to what to expect, it will make your birth plan go a little smoother. Since every hospital is different and follows different protocols, make sure and discuss how your birthing plan will change with your doctor. In the recent months, here are some of the most common changes you can expect.

Only One Support Staff/Visitor

While many new moms only have a small support staff during delivery anyway, the number has been cut to one. If you were working with a doula or midwife and were expecting your partner and your doula to be present, you’re going to have to make a choice. Hospitals are trying to limit the number of people that are present to help reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission. With that being said, friends and family are also not currently allowed to wait in the waiting room. While this can be frustrating for many people, it’s a safety precaution that is done to protect you, your baby, and the community at the hospital.

In addition to only have one support staff present, whoever that is might not be able to leave the room. A lot of hospitals are taking precautions and limiting chances of exposure by prohibiting both you and your partner, husband, or support staff from leaving the room once you get there. This means that you will need to prepare accordingly and bring anything you might think you need during this time. It’s likely that you’ll be required to stay in the room during postpartum too but talk to your hospital about what their requirements are. Every hospital is different right now and you need to be prepared for your individual circumstances. For example, some hospitals are offering room service/delivery options for women and their support staff during labor and some are not.

No Nursery Care

Many hospitals are going as far as abandoning nursery care during this time. This means that after delivery, your baby will stay the night with you in the hospital room. While this doesn’t seem like it will be too much of a challenge, new moms need their rest after delivery. To make sure that you’re able to rest and recover on those first few nights, have your support staff present to help with your newborn.

Personal Protective Gear

While we’ve been fairly desensitized to basic personal protective gear, you can expect doctors and nurses to have more intense equipment. Don’t be alarmed if they show up wearing gowns, gloves, masks, headshields, or more during your visits and delivery. While it might feel a bit impersonal, we are in the middle of a pandemic. All personal protective gear is done to keep you and your baby safe.

Some hospitals also require everyone inside the hospital to be in personal protective gear—including mom. Talk to your doctor about patient requirements for your hospital and figure out ahead of time whether or not you’ll need to come prepared. While many women who have given birth during the COVID-19 pandemic report not having to wear a mask during delivery, it’s something that you should know before you get to the hospital. 

Missing Doctors

Doctors are susceptible to COVID-19 just like everyone else. If your doctor happens to test positive prior to your delivery, the hospital will have a backup physician ready to take over. While this can be disconcerting for those who have worked with their doctor every step of their pregnancy, it’s necessary to keep you safe and reduce the likelihood that you or your baby will catch COVID-19 at the hospital. It’s best to be prepared for this, just in case.

Early Discharge

If this isn’t your first delivery, you can probably recall staying in the hospital during recovery. While everyone’s recovery time varies, most women average about two to three nights post-delivery, longer if there are complications. In the middle of a pandemic, your discharge date might be moved up to make sure that you’re both isolated and you avoid any risk of unnecessary exposure. If you have any complications, your doctor will keep you in the hospital to ensure a safe and healthy recovery prior to discharging you and your baby. Talk to your hospital or doctor to learn more about your discharge times and what you should expect.

In-Room Labor

In some cases, women may be required to give birth in their hospital room. If this is the case, the hospital will be prepared to handle everything just as they normally would to ensure that you’re safe and in the best position possible to avoid complications. To help things go smoothly, here are some labor tips for first time moms.

COVID-19 Tests

Upon entering the hospital, both you and your support staff/visitor will be tested for COVID-19. This is just so that the hospital knows what type of precautions to take and whether or not you need to be completely isolated. In some cases, COVID-19 tests will also be recommended and administered for your baby.

While there are a lot of changes to having a baby during a pandemic, the basics remain the same. Your delivery will still be treated as an important moment and you’ll be given all of the precautions necessary to keep you and your baby safe. You can read more about frequently asked questions here, or contact your doctor to learn more about the specifics of your hospital. Going into labor knowing that there will be changes is difficult, but you’re strong enough to get through anything. Stay calm and try to enjoy your experience as much as possible before finally meeting your newborn. 

 

Testing Positive for COVID-19

If you happen to test positive upon hospitalization, or at any time throughout your stay, there are certain precautions that need to be taken to ensure that you don’t pass COVID-19 on to your baby. Those who are positive will be required to wear a mask throughout their time and you might need to be temporarily separated from your child immediately following delivery. Unfortunately, if your baby tests negative for COVID-19 while you are positive, you will need to be isolated to avoid transmission. During this time, you can still breast pump and have your partner or support staff feed your newborn, but you will not be able to nurse.

In some hospitals, they place COVID-19 positive women in a room that has negative pressure to avoid airborne contamination to other hospital patients and staff. Aside from the pressure, everything else will be the same.

Testing positive for COVID-19 leads to different procedures for different hospitals, so again, please check with your provider to determine what will happen in the worst-case scenario. It’s always better to be prepared than to have to digest hard news right before, during, or immediately following delivery. To make sure that you’re prepared for everything, don’t forget to pack your hospital bag and get your free, insurance covered breast pump. Byram Healthcare has plenty of options for you to choose from and will help you work through the insurance claims process to make things as easy as possible.