As Covid-19 continues to spread around the world, pregnant mothers everywhere are facing the challenge of strained health systems and disruptions in service. The birth of a baby presents various challenges from preparing for the actual birth and adapting in the postnatal period. Add the stress of living under lockdown during a global pandemic, and these challenges are even greater, logistically and psychologically.
We’re living in a time of great uncertainty, and if your due date is approaching, I’m sure you’ve got lots of questions and concerns when it comes to preparing for birth. While pregnancy during a global pandemic can be filled with some previously unexpected situations, there are quite a few things you can do to help prepare yourself and your baby for birth.
How new families can prepare for going into hospital for birth
It’s no surprise that hospital policies have changed to protect expectant mamas’ and their babies as a result Covid-19. For instance, many hospitals now only allow one support person to be in the room during labour (if any). Every hospital and birthing facility is different, but most are taking a firm approach to protect both patients and staff.
A lot of hospitals are also placing limits on how often a “support person” can come and go. It’s best to assume that once the support person enters the hospital, they won’t be allowed to leave and return. This means that it’s important to prepare and think carefully about what to pack in your and your partner’s hospital bag beforehand.
Expecting families should now be packing clothing and toiletries for both the mother and partner (support person). Ensure that you have all essentials since there may be no way to get anything else in once you’ve entered the hospital.
Continuing prenatal check-ups
Many pregnant women are worried about going to prenatal appointments due to concern of being exposed to infection in a hospital or clinic environment. Many healthcare professionals are limiting contact by reducing in-person appointments and replacing these with virtual prenatal care. This schedule of virtual and in-person appointments will depend on unique pregnancy and medical risk factors. If your appointment schedule has been altered, get in touch with your healthcare professional to make sure you are on the right care pathway for your pregnancy. Also remember that many of the clinics and hospitals in which appointments take place either with your midwife, sonographer or doctor are cleaned regularly and have strict infection control protocols in place.
How pregnant women can protect themselves from exposure to Covid-19
Pregnant women should follow the same guidelines as everyone else when it comes to protecting themselves from exposure to the Covid-19 virus. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds
- Sanitize with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60 to 95% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable and your hands are not visibly soiled
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or symptomatic
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched regularly
- Stay home as much as you can – especially if there are widespread cases in your local area
Based on evidence to date, it’s believed that pregnant women may not be at an increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19 when compared to people who are not pregnant. This is reassuring, however pregnancy in itself does put increased pressure on your immune system. So, it is important to still take the steps above to keep yourself and your baby safe.
What you can do to protect your newborn once you are able to go home?
Most importantly, you should practice the same level of care for your newborn as you would if there were no global pandemic taking place. Don’t let the concern about the unlikely event of contracting Covid-19 prevent you from enjoying this amazing and beautiful experience. That said, you shouldn’t forget about the basics. Follow proper hand hygiene, stay away from anyone who is sick or symptomatic, and follow social distancing measures. Also, keep in mind that it’s still essential for new families to maintain a close relationship with their midwife or paediatrician to ensure that you and your baby are thriving.
Talk through preparing for birth with one of our midwives. Book a consultation now for a personalised birth discussion.