Having a Baby During Covid
Becoming a mum is the most joyous thing in the world, but there are always concerns that trouble you. Will the baby be healthy? How will I cope with labour? Will I be able to breastfeed successfully? These are all natural and normal concerns for expectant mums. This year, though, there is an additional worry. Covid 19. And it’s not something we can turn to our support network to help us with, as nobody has experienced this before.
I always feel that knowledge is power, so let’s take a look at some of the things that might be worrying you, and some of the things you might like to think about in the months leading up to your birth.
Risks to you During Pregnancy
First and foremost, there is no evidence that pregnant women are any more at risk of Covid 19 than the general population. That said, Covid 19 is a respiratory disease which affects your breathing, and if you do contract Covid 19 this could affect your ability to manage your breathing during labour. So what should you do?
- Follow normal hand washing and social distancing protocols
- Wear a mask when out and about
- Avoid crowds and close contact as much as possible
- Avoid hugging and physical contact except for your immediate family
- Talk to your employer about taking additional care in your work environment
A little extra care now might save you some difficulty when it comes to giving birth. And if you are feeling unwell – get tested right away. The sooner you know the sooner you can make informed choices.
Whether you have chosen to have a hospital or home birth, it is not necessary to change your plans. However, you should be aware that there have been changes in the way hospitals manage birth and postnatal care, which may or may not have you reconsidering your options.
Hospitals have always had very good infection control policies, and this is particularly the case in maternity wards. Medical staff are very aware of the need to protect young babies and new mums. Covid 19 has meant that new measures have been introduced, on a hospital by hospital basis. Some of these changes include:
- The number of support people you are allowed during labour and delivery has been reduced.
- Water births have been terminated or discouraged in some hospitals.
- The number and nature of visitors allowed during your postpartum stay has been reduced. Some hospitals are discouraging children from visiting and limiting all visitors to immediate family.
- In-home postnatal care is increasing, so mums and babies are being sent home as quickly as possible.
- Zoom is being used to provide both antenatal and postpartum care as well as birthing education classes.
Since changes that have been introduced are hospital specific, and are changing all the time, you should check with your intended hospital what their current rules are on delivery and postnatal care.
The number of women in Australia considering home births has risen from around 4% to about 25% this year. Women are understandably nervous about being in a hospital with so many people coming and going.
Currently there are no Medicare rebates for midwives attending a home birth, although you can get a rebate on home based Pregnancy care and Postpartum care. Some private health insurance will cover home births, so you should check with your provider if you are considering this option.
A great resource for home birth information is Homebirth NSW https://www.homebirthnsw.org.au/
Because of the increase in demand, if you are considering a home birth, contact your chosen midwife early to make sure they are available to support you.
How a Doula Can Help
A doula’s role is to support mum, partner and baby. Despite changes in hospital protocols and the increased level of anxiety and isolation caused by lockdowns, we are still here to do just that, and will ensure that even though your birth might not look quite how you originally imagined, it will still be a joyous and special event.
During pregnancy a Doula can help you prepare physically and emotionally for the birth, so when that incredible time comes you feel empowered by the knowledge you have gained.
If your hospital has restricted the number of people allowed at your birth a doula can provide you with a letter outlining the reasons you require a doula for the hospital to consider. Should your doula not be allowed in the birthing room, phone and video call support is always available.
Your doula will support you in labouring at home as long as you can, to reduce the length of time you are labouring in the hospital.
With postnatal hospital stays being reduced, good postpartum care is even more important. Your doula will be available to care for you and baby and ensure you both get the rest and nourishment you require in those precious first days and weeks.
This might all seem like a lot to consider on top of everything else you are dealing with but you are not alone. Part of the role of the doula is to keep abreast of the constantly changing landscape. They will honestly discuss your options with you and provide you with the information you need to make the decisions that are best for you, your partner and your baby.
If you would like to know more about how Covid 19 might affect you, your baby and your birthing experience, or talk about your pregnancy and birthing plans or concerns, I would love to hear from you so please give me a call on 0422 258 771 or get in touch here: