Giving Birth During a Pandemic

Giving Birth During a Pandemic

  - By Miranda Lightstone 

As a mother, we are never prepared for birth. Ever. No amount of planning or preparing will make the experience any easier. It’s something that might seem hard to accept, but it’s important that you do. Pregnancy is scary. Giving birth is scary. Motherhood is scary. All you can do as a mother is try and accept that you cannot control everything, your best tool is knowledge and a certain sense of openness. 

When I was pregnant, I had a “plan.” I had a list of things I wanted to do – use a medicine ball, walk, do specific breathing, listen to specific music. How did it actually go? I was in labour for 36 hours and really only felt contractions for the last 4 hours before I started to push. The radio in the birthing room was set to a local radio station that was playing dance club tracks as it was close to midnight on a Friday night (“I’m Sexy and I Know It” was blasting while I got my epidural and I will forever remember that very odd moment). I never used the medicine ball, and I think I made it down the hallway once for a walk before I gave up on that because of the pain. But in the end I gave birth to a happy, healthy, 9lb 4oz little boy with all his fingers and toes, and I was healthy and set for a good, quick recovery from my natural birth. I cannot for the life of me imagine what mothers over this past year have felt giving birth during a global pandemic. I was not, nor do I plan on being, pregnant this past year so I do not have firsthand experience, but I have friends and acquaintances who did go through it, and living
through their experiences virtually with them was both eye-opening and harrowing all at once.

Appointments Alone
For those lucky enough to have a partner when pregnant, it is a team effort (in more ways than one). Yes, the pregnant mother is doing the majority of the heavy lifting throughout the pregnancy process, but it is so important for the dad/partner to be involved in any way they can. That usually means being there for all the appointments and ultrasounds and blood tests over the nine months. Well, COVID took that bond away from partners this past year. Mothers were forced to attend their appointments solo, while partners waited out in their cars anxiously. To avoid lonely appointments, I followed a pregnancy online in which the family opted to use midwives who would visit their home for appointments, so the father could be present. Of course, all the proper PPE precautions were taken by all during said appointments.

Hospital Visit Jitters
Visiting the hospital before COVID was stressful enough when pregnant. The idea of germs and possibly sickness associated with hospital visits is always at the forefront of our minds as soon as we step through the door. Well, with COVID quarantined sections and signs for social distancing all around, as well as constant reminders to wash hands and wear a mask, visiting a hospital during a global pandemic takes on an entirely elevated level of stress. And yet, it might actually be the best place to be. They clean hospitals so rigorously (not that they didn’t before), and the birthing ward is completely separate from any sort of COVID wards. Nurses and doctors are limited in their movement around the hospital, and the nurses and doctors that you deal with during the birthing process are not the same nurses and doctors working in the ER or other wards associated with COVID patients.

Giving Birth Alone
For a period of time when cases were at their peak, partners weren’t allowed to be in the room with the mother as she birthed. This shocked even me, and I remember reading a flood of posts on social media from pregnant women I knew who were immediately outraged that their partners would have to wait outside
while they gave birth alone with only the needed doctors and nurses. Knowing that their partner would miss witnessing the birth of their child was unthinkable.
And I understood completely why they were so outraged. However, at the same time, I know why the government made that decision and what they were trying to minimize – external spread coming into a safe place where mothers and newborns are exposed to all kinds of things already. Thankfully, that mandate didn’t last for too long and partners are currently allowed to be in the birthing room for natural and c-section births.

Home Birth Option
A few mothers I know opted for at-home births knowing the hospital restrictions may limit their partners being present for the birth. Of course, home births are not possible for all and possibly not even medically possible if there is any sort of possible complication associated with the birth. However, if you know your pregnancy is going normally and you and baby are in good health, a home birth is still an option. Water births are generally the go-to home-birth method and the
midwives are the ones who set up the “tub” inside and do all the prep work and set up as well as the teardown and clean-up afterwards! Of course, you need to remember that even if that was your original plan and all the effort was put into it, on the day of if you and baby need a hospital, guess what? That’s where you’re going to give birth! Deep breaths, and be open to whatever it is that needs to happen to get you both through this incredible, miraculous experience. Happy Healthy Mum and Baby.

COVID has taken away so many things from all of us over the past year, let’s not let it take away the miracle of giving birth and how incredible it all is. In the end, pandemic or not, the most important things to focus on through any birthing process are the health and safety of mum and baby. No matter the rules and regulations or if you have to wear a mask the whole time or limit the time your partner is in the room with you or the time you spend in the hospital, a pandemic shouldn’t ever take the focus away from you giving birth to a wonderful and healthy little life.