Dealing with pregnancy during the COVID pandemic can be isolating and scary, but it isn’t as bad as you may fear. The important thing is to be knowledgeable and prepared. There are some things you should know about giving birth during COVID. Bear in mind that COVID can severely impact the pregnant mother, but the baby is considered at very low risk. During pregnancy, you may be more vulnerable to severe illness upon contracting COVID. However, if you have COVID there is little chance of passing it to your baby, especially as long as you practice hand hygiene and wear a mask around the child. To avoid getting COVID while pregnant you should limit your exposure to crowds in the weeks leading up to the end of gestation. This is to avoid having COVID at the time of birth.
They’ll test you upon arrival at the hospital or beforehand if you schedule your childbirth. I went in unexpectedly after an OB appointment. They quickly administered the nasal swab. I didn’t enjoy it. If you have COVID they isolate you in a secluded area of Labor and Delivery to limit your exposure to other patients and hospital staff. They allow you to touch and care for your baby, but you will need to take the proper precautions.
Childbirth Education During COVID
Giving birth during COVID also connects with your pregnancy experience and hospital education. Hospitals are more routinized now than early on when it comes to their COVID procedures. They know how to treat it better and they are more knowledgeable about how to keep the virus from spreading. You can expect to be able to take childbirth education classes, either in person or virtual. You will also be able to take a tour of the maternity unit if you have never been there before. Since I had children prior to COVID I did not pursue classes during my COVID pregnancy. In my personal experience, childbirth education was not overly beneficial and tended to support services the hospital wanted to push on new moms. It’s hard to feel self-assured and secure as a first-time mom, so make sure you have support from somebody close to you if you do take classes.
Safety WHile Giving Birth During COVID
Since you will be screened and tested before giving birth, you can be assured that you will be placed in a low-risk environment. You will be afforded one guest to provide support and assistance for you during and post-delivery. The hospital only admits one person with you and they encourage that person to remain with you. However, in my experience, my husband was able to come and go frequently. He was only screened once daily, so the stay-in-the-room concept is more of a suggestion.
OB appointments were a totally different story for me. I had to go to all of those by myself. That was one of the hardest parts of COVID pregnancy for me because I don’t always feel like doctors or nurses have my personal interests at heart and I appreciate having an advocate if I feel pushed around. That may just be me, but I’ve never been a big fan of the healthcare where I live.
While in the hospital, if you don’t have your own personal protection equipment, they will provide it for you. Another thing that my hospital was doing was utilizing closets in the rooms for supplies. I’m not sure if they still do this, but the closets were taped shut and we couldn’t use them for our bags as we normally would. If you break the tape seal, then they have to sanitize everything in the closet. I worried that they would be using the closet while I was in the room, but they never did. It was only a slight inconvenience not to have the storage space.
COVID Limitations at Hospitals
Aside from the need for additional storage, there are a few other limitations the hospitals now face. food service access is limited and it can take hours to get orders in. They encourage patients to bring their own food and snacks. Lactation support may be limited to remote access depending on your circumstances if you require that. One pleasant surprise was that they discharged me early. I appreciated this because I didn’t want to stay longer than necessary. However, I noted this as a limitation due to COVID since normally they would have kept me longer for observation, but they made an allowance under the circumstances just to free up the room in a timely manner.
I have had three pregnancies, and my most experience giving birth during COVID. All in all the experience was not drastically different other than the precautions and procedures that I mentioned.