Written & Contributed by: MamaNatal
Your top questions answered
If you’re reading this you’re seeking out information to help you and your baby.
You’re acting on a natural instinct to protect and care for your child. So before you read further, it’s important you hear this:
"You’re already doing so well as a mother. Good job mama!"
With so much information coming out about coronavirus, it can be unsettling to decipher what it all means to you and your baby. So we’ve compiled a list of the most common questions we’ve gotten from pregnant women about giving birth. This list of answers will be updated often and regularly. We’re here to support you.
As you’re reading through these, there are some reassurances we want all mothers to keep in mind.
- Hospitals are safe. It’s important to recognize the difference between precautions and safety. Hospitals are putting new procedures in place to make sure patients and staff are safe.
- Know your options and get support for your decisions. Building a support system is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family - through pregnancy, delivery and postpartum.
Tips from a postpartum doula
Part of settling into motherhood is establishing balance - so when you take in the bad, let yourself take in the good too.
Chances are you wouldn’t choose to have a baby during a worldwide pandemic. It can be scary and at times, overwhelming.
But you will meet the moment. And in doing so, you are being so brave. That courageous spirit is something your baby and your family will feel.Resilience.
What a great story to tell your baby.
Questions & Answers: Having a baby during COVID
Updated August 2020
How does COVID-19 affect pregnant mothers?
According to the CDC (updated June 25, 2020),
“pregnant people might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people. Additionally, there may be an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, among pregnant people with COVID-19.”
What can I do to limit the risk of contracting COVID-19?
- Wear a mask whenever you leave the house
- Stay at home as much as possible and away from anyone who is sick
- Create a routine of handwashing
- Pausing on social media and coronavirus news
- Talking to supportive people
- Getting plenty of sleep
How should I prepare for birth during COVID-19?
- Go to all of your doctor’s appointments (virtually and in-person). If you do not have a doctor or healthcare provider, find a community health center here.
- Ask for help from family and friends. Ever heard the saying “It takes a village”? Well, its no surprise that was coined by a mother. Often family and friends are ready and willing to help but don’t know how. Our prenatal counselors can work with you to figure out what kind of support you could benefit from and give you simple ways to lighten your load.
- Don’t forget to ask lots of questions. Preparing for delivery can be a challenging process, in general, but with COVID-precautions also involved, things are even more complicated. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding their particular birth policies, hospital policies, and more.
- Consider all of your birth options. If the prospect of having your baby in a hospital is stressing you out, maybe it’s not the best choice for your family. Evaluate whether you’d be comfortable delivering at home or in a birth center.
- Allow yourself to grieve. Giving birth during a worldwide pandemic is probably not what you had in mind when you decided to start a family. There’s no shame in feeling let-down and anxious about the things you’re losing out on during these unprecedented times. Give yourself the space to freely grieve these experiences.
- If you decide to deliver in a hospital check out our printable list of items to include in your ‘hospital bag’ [LINK]
Partners, Visitors & Doulas
Can I have visitors?
It’s not uncommon for hospitals restrict visitors (especially children) during flu seasons. During the time of coronavirus hospitals and birthing centers first priority is to keep its patients and staff safe. With COVID, a novel virus that has shown to be a silent spreader, many hospitals have restricted visitors to limit the likelihood.
Can my partner/husband be in the room?
Thankfully most hospitals are now allowing at least one birthing partner to be in the room with you when you deliver. Most hospitals also allow for the partner to record and/or facetime while you’re in the hospital so that you can share it with other loved ones safely.
While these are general procedures (as of August 2020) it’s important to note that this varies based on the hospital or birthing center you’re delivering in. So for the most current guidelines for you, one call to your birthing center can answer those questions.
Does my doula count as my one visitor?
If your facility only allows one visitors, typically a doula will count as a visitor and often cannot switch after delivery. This means that if you plan on having a doula, you’ll want to consider if your doula can support you for your entire hospital stay.
Who else will be in the room during delivery?
Expect your OBGYN or attending doctor or doula, any nurses and other physicians such as an anesthesiologist. If your birthing center allows for a support person, he/she will also be with you and expect everyone to be wearing masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields and scrubs.
Who can be in the room after delivery?
Hospitals right now feel different than hospitals pre-COVID. To protect patients and hospital staff against exposure hospitals have limited the number of people in and out of your room. This usually makes for a much quieter hospital but if you need assistance, the nursing staff should show you how to call for help.
Generally, you can expect a visit from your OBGYN after delivery, nursing staff, chosen pediatrician. If you need support breastfeeding and the hospital has not provided a lactation consultant you can get virtual breastfeeding services via your phone in the hospital or at home.
Is it safe to deliver in a hospital right now?
During any hospital delivery there are risks. Even with COVID still looming, however, it’s crucial to understand that it’s still safe to have your baby - as long as certain precautions are in place. Your chosen hospital should be implementing safety measures, i.e., COVID-testing, visitor restrictions, and strict cleaning and sanitation procedures.
Should I wait to go to the hospital?
There’s no reason to wait any longer than normal to go to the hospital during COVID. If you’re noticing typical labor signs, such as your water breaking or consistent contractions, it’s worth taking a trip to your chosen medical facility. You should also be aware of emergency signs, i.e., lack of fetal movement and bleeding. Be sure to speak with your doctor for specific instructions on when they want you to start heading to the hospital.
Should I schedule an induction to limit my time in the hospital?
While it can be perfectly safe to schedule an elective induction when you’ve reached a term pregnancy, this is something to be discussed with your doctor. Inductions come with risks and shouldn’t be considered in every situation, even with COVID as a concern.
Should I deliver at home instead?
Delivering at home is a beautiful way to have a baby but it’s not for everyone. Delivering at home allows for some flexibility to hospital protocols but also means that mom should be more involved with all of the decisions and considerations that come along with pushing a baby.
Is it better to deliver at a birthing center instead of a hospital?
While accredited birthing centers are a safe option for giving births, many professional organizations still believe that hospitals are your safest option. Wherever you decide to give birth, remember to ask questions about what COVID precautions the facility is taking.
What happens when I arrive at the hospital?
Expect for you and any allowed birthing partner(s) to be screened for COVID-19 usually that means a temperature check and a test that is usually done as a nasal swab and/or blood test. Unfortunately, you will not be allowed to have additional visitors during your hospital stay.
If you are showing any possible signs of COVID or have tested positive prior to your arrival, you will likely be admitted into an isolation room for the duration of your stay. It’s often suggested that mothers isolate themselves away from their baby after birth, but this isn’t necessarily a requirement.
For healthy patients with no COVID symptoms, they will be placed into a traditional birthing room, and their baby will be allowed to stay with them after the birth.
Do I have to wear a mask while pushing?
In most cases, yes. Masks have been shown as one of the most critical ways to stop the spread of coronavirus. So in order to protect you, your baby and the hospital staff, everyone in the birthing room will likely be wearing masks. The hospital will provide masks for you and any birthing partners.
If you have concerns about wearing a mask during labor, it’s best to ask your OBGYN or care provider before delivery during a prenatal appointment or phone call.
What happens if I test positive for COVID19?
When an expectant mother tests positive for COVID-19 before the birth of their child, they will be assigned an isolated room for labor and delivery. Once the baby is born, most hospitals prefer most women to continue isolating away from her family and baby.
It’s understandable, however, that many women want to keep their baby with them for nursing and bonding. For these women, it’s suggested they follow certain guidelines when interacting with their child, such as:
- Continue to wear a mask, at all times
- Wash hands before holding, touching, or caring for baby
- Try to remain 6 feet away from the baby, when/if possible
Can I give COVID19 to my baby?
As of August 2020, the coronavirus has not been detected in breastmilk of COVID-19 positive mothers. In fact, not only can this disease not be transmitted through breast milk, nursing your baby plays a significant role in boosting their immune system. Breast milk provides your little one with ample nutrients required for the early development of their immune system. These include:
- T & B Lymphocytes
- Growth Factors
- Good Bacteria
When it comes to COVID-19 transmission, it’s crucial to realize transmission occurs primarily through respiratory droplets, i.e., airborne germs spread through sneezes, coughs, or speaking. This is why it’s so important to maintain safe 6 foot distances between one another.
Can I leave the hospital early?
Most hospitals discharge 2 days after vaginal birth, and 3 days after a c-section. Some hospitals offer early discharge for new mothers 1 day after delivery for mothers who can safely do so and want to take the option. In those situations, we encourage mothers to take advantage of any and telemedicine appointments and virtual postpartum sessions to aid in their recovery.
How can I make my baby feel comfortable during the first days?
In the womb, your little one is protected from the overwhelming stimulation of lights, sounds and feelings of the outside world. Swaddling helps your little one to feel secure and mimics that safe feeling of being in the comforts of the mothers womb.
Here are some tips that will help you create a comfortable and safe sleeping environment.
Always place your little one on their back to go to sleep.
If your baby sleeps in a crib at night make sure to avoid the use of bumpers, pillows or blankets. Your crib should be completely empty during sleep. It’s also recommended to use a firm and flat mattress.
There are many options for swaddling, but we recommend swaddling with The Ollie to ensure that fabric is never too close to your little one's face or chin. Always be sure to tie the elastic loop at the bottom.
Summary / Conclusion
We know that giving birth during a pandemic is stressful, and we want you to know that you are not alone! Please share this article with any fellow expecting or new moms.
MamaNatal will publish new findings of how Covid might affect pregnancy and birth on our blog and social channels, so check back for updates and updated information.
Would like to connect with a birth expert live or watch classes? Visit MamaNatal: https://mamanatal.com/
MamaNatal’s Facebook group to connect with lactation consultants, sleep trainers and medical doctors: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mamanatal