Motherhood can be one of the most unpredictable times in a woman’s life. But throw in a pandemic, unreliable medical care, and social unrest, and that unpredictability becomes a whole lot worse.
Coronavirus has exposed America’s gap in reliable maternal care and has left moms in the dark, feeling unprepared and unequipped for motherhood. Where there were once office check-ups and scheduled hospital births, there are now canceled appointments, last-minute birthing changes, and the anxiety of living and working during a pandemic, all with a newborn. Without guidance from the health care system, mothers are guessing, and googling questions, like, “do I have to wear a mask while giving birth?” or ‘is my baby safe from COVID-19 in a hospital?”
Since the pandemic, midwifery care has popularized and while the stigma is still very strong in the U.S., many moms now are finding out that this personal and supportive care is exactly what they need- even before the pandemic. Babies will continue to be born, and mothers will continue to need support.
What should I expect for hospital delivery with COVID? Will I be given a mask to protect myself from possible exposure in the hospital?”
Most hospitals throughout the US are enforcing a “one-visitor” policy, which for some hospitals, that would include a health support person, like a doula. This is an ever-evolving situation and can depend on when you give birth, however, I would expect this to continue for many weeks to months. Additionally, since you are due soon, you may notice that the healthcare providers will be using masks for every patient, even non-COVID positive patients. Hospitals typically ask patients outside of their room to wear a mask, but inside their room, the patient can remove it. If you happen to become exposed in the time being and test positive you may be quarantined from your child as well. I may recommend reaching out via the phone to your specific facility and listing all of your questions. The healthcare providers will work to keep you and baby as safe as possible. I am sorry though that this is something you’re facing, you’re a strong mama to be going through this.
– Haley, Zaya Certified Nurse Midwife
Are there certain precautions to take of my newborn during this time?
Caring for your baby (and yourself!) during this time would include all of the same that we would normally recommend, including frequent washing of hands and limiting visitors. If you can avoid all visitors, that would be even best. If you feel worried about receiving packages or mail, we recommend wiping it down with wipes. Postpartum can be really hard, even without a pandemic. Try your best to use the time you spend indoors, to bond and get to know your new baby. We’re always there for you, as well.
-Jacklyn, Certified Nurse Midwife
Is it normal to feel extra anxious right now? When should I know to seek help?
This is a scary situation and can be hard to cope with. If you’re taking all the safety precautions, then know that you’re doing great! There’s no “right” way to feel during this time but remember that it is okay to feel some form of anxiety, especially during a pandemic. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed, I do think a therapist or social worker would be a good way to find support. We always recommend a postpartum doula, in addition, to help you with physical and emotional support. There’s no such thing as “too much” support.
-Haley, Zaya Certified Nurse Midwife
How will this affect my breastfeeding journey? Will I be able to meet a lactation consultant while in the hospital?
Policies are continuously changing and it depends on what city you live in. But at the moment, in most states, Lactation Consultants are currently allowed in the hospital assisting post-delivery. For a continuous type of care, we recommend joining a virtual breastfeeding group post-delivery, along with speaking to us, virtually, with your concerns. This way, you can limit your exposure to visitors. If you believe you are sick, you can continue to breastfeed, but the current recommendation is to wear a mask and limit contact with the baby when not breastfeeding.
– Anne, Zaya Licensed Breastfeeding Expert
My doctor canceled one of my appointments because of COVID… what should I do?
Many OB practices are using a skeleton prenatal care schedule, especially for low-risk women, and filling in the gaps with telemedicine appointments. There is also a practice of dividing in-person appointments into a telemedicine portion (during which the discussion and questions that come up during appointments would be covered) and an in-office portion, thereby limiting in-person exposure to just the physical assessment (belly check and fetal heart rate check, etc). If for any reason in your pregnancy you don’t feel supported with the care in your provider’s office, as compared to others you may be hearing about, you are the consumer of your own healthcare. It is your right to shop around and choose a provider and a hospital that makes you feel supported. We’re also always here to clarify or support you when you have canceled or delayed appointments.
-Jacklyn, Certified Nurse Midwife
Moms and their babies need physical and emotional reassurance now more than ever. Whether you’re a first-time mom or mom to four, know that you’re not alone in this unpredictable journey of motherhood in a pandemic. Finding support and recommendations from a team of care providers is one of the most important things you can do right now.
Zaya Care is a virtual network of licensed nurse midwives, doulas, and lactation consultants with the mission to help moms feel physically and emotionally supported during their motherhood journey. Join here to get your first conversation with a maternal & newborn expert and unlimited care to ask anything from milk supply to labor pain management for free.