Your birth plan. The document you so thoroughly researched and carefully crafted, it outlines everything necessary to give you and your bundle of joy the best possible start. But who would’ve thought to include a pandemic contingency plan?
The list of inevitable compromises is not short, and unexpected issues will likely arise given the circumstances. Sadly, this is nothing new to mothers-to-be navigating prenatal appointments and doctor's visits during the pandemic.
Husbands, partners, and family members frequently cannot attend. Not only leaving us a little anxious, but also saddened that they cannot experience the sight of that miraculous little heartbeat on the ultrasound.
It's oh so hard. But know, you are so much stronger than you realize. When I hear stories of mother’s being isolated from their baby after testing positive, or women making those final pushes with only masked nurses by their side, my heart breaks. This isn’t how it is supposed to be. And even though the protocols are for everyone’s protection, it doesn’t seem fair. Least of all to mamas who have waited nine months for their precious bundle of joy, and hoped to celebrate with family and friends.
But I promise you. You are so much stronger than you know. Pandemic or not, bringing a child into the world is an incredibly empowering experience, regardless of how it happens. This virus may have taken away your baby shower, your ability to aimlessly peruse the Target baby aisle, and even a loving hand to hold through labor. But you are far from alone.
Mother’s everywhere, of every life stage, hear you and feel for you. We are listening, thinking of you, and rooting for you. You deserve the same support that all mothers need during birth and postpartum. Thankfully, there are a few unique ways to get it during this trying time.
I encourage you to be upfront with your doctor and ask them to be honest and frank with you in return. This is helpful for labor, even sans pandemic. Ask them what policies are currently in place and what may change. Discuss what happens if you test positive for the virus. Have them layout recommendations for receiving support post-birth, both in the hospital and at home.
The magnitude of this virus is humbling, but don’t feel so small that you can’t speak up for yourself. The wellbeing of you and your baby, both physically and mentally, is not something to overlook. It is understandable that hospitals have many priorities vying for their attention, but don’t feel that you have to stay silent about your birth worries or hopes.
All laboring moms experience anxiety, now the ways in which we handle this may look a little bit different. Just as how everything from school to work has gone virtual over these past few weeks, so can your support network.
Consider using a cell phone or tablet to receive assistance from your birth team, whether it be your partner, doula, or mom. Give it a trial run before labor begins so you know how to cue your support person when contractions occur and which tripod setup is best for you both to see each other. Even though you may try to plan for every what-if, also prepare yourself to go it alone.
This can include participating in an online childbirth class, collecting as many labor tips from your doula as possible, and learning how to self calm. I promise you, even if you find yourself in a room full of only medical personnel, you can do this!
Postpartum your support network becomes so much more vast than ever before thanks to reliance on online groups and social media. While it may be disheartening to have to FaceTime your mom instead of having her spend those first few precious weeks at your house, she will be just as smitten with your little one. Friends and family will still do all that they can, if not more, to support you and provide for you during this time of social distancing.
In turn, your little bundle of joy will bring a ray of light and hope to these dark times we are all experiencing. Just as I have faith we will get through this pandemic, I also believe that this birth experience will reveal your inner strength that comes with motherhood.
Jasmine is a partner at Freshly Moms and Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance. She is a Food Science graduate from McGill University and has worked extensively in the food and beverage industry. She is a fresh mom herself who is passionate about perinatal care and nutrition.