The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about how our hospitals and health care providers operate. These changes in protocol are set in place not only to reduce the spread of the virus but also to keep patients and health care workers as safe as possible.
But these changes can be a worrying — even terrifying — time for everyone, especially if you are pregnant and expecting to give birth anytime soon. These changes will definitely have an impact on their birthing experience and that goes pretty much without question. However, it does not mean that it would be impossible to give birth safely during the pandemic. If you are expecting to give birth anytime soon, here are a few things you need to know.
Pregnant women are supposed to follow the same health and safety protocols recommended to the rest of the community. It is crucial for everyone to practice social distancing, wearing of masks, and proper hygiene.
There are currently no special protocols in place for pregnant women, but they are expected to be more vigilant in minimizing exposure by avoiding large gatherings of people and staying inside the home. Avoid doing unnecessary errands and going to nonessential appointments and trips. This way, you are protecting not only yourself but also the rest of the family.
If you are expecting to give birth, it helps to be more prepared and be more flexible with your birth plan. Birth plans are there to outline your preferences for labor and delivery, specifying the type of delivery you prefer (vaginal, Cesarean section, or VBAC) as well as pain medications. This birth plan might also contain the name of the person you want to be present during labor.
However, with all the new hospital and health care protocols in place, it should not come as a surprise that birth plans might not be followed to a T. For instance, your chosen health care facility might not allow water births to minimize possible exposure to the virus. It is also possible that your health care facility will be short staffed. Finally, your preferred birthing partner might not even be allowed to stay with you during labor to, again, minimize exposure.
Protocols would vary from hospital to hospital, though, so make it clear from the beginning that you would want to be informed of possible changes to your birth plan.
Visits are used to be an expected part of the birthing experience, but right now, you might need to tell your friends and family that they wouldn’t be able to visit the hospital. Hospitals, in general, do not allow any visitors for patients to minimize possible exposure.
It is understandable that you would want the presence of your loved ones during this significant milestone. However, right now, the priority of hospitals is to protect all of their patients and health care workers. There are ways to inform your loved ones of the good news remotely like calling them or having a video chat.
Length of Hospital Stay
The pandemic might also affect the length of your stay in the hospital. If there are no complications with you or the baby, expect to go home within 24 hours. Remember that just because you get to go home early does not mean your recovery period
Suspected COVID-19 Case
If you suspect yourself to have COVID-19 symptoms, you should inform your health care providers right away. In this case, expect that you will not be allowed to have a home birth or be assisted by a midwife in a clinic. Instead, you will be advised to give birth in a hospital equipped to handle COVID-19 deliveries.
One of the clearer expectations you might have is the possibility of being tested for COVID-19. You can expect that you will definitely be tested before admission as well as your spouse or birth partner. But aside from this, you should also expect that your baby might be tested for the virus as well if you are confirmed or suspected of having it.
Although there is no reason to be terrified of giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is definitely a reason to be twice more vigilant than usual. Do a lot of research, ask your healthcare provider for their health and safety protocols, and err on the side of caution.