How to Navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic
Pregnancy is such an exciting time. Each milestone is a new magical moment in the mystery. Pregnancy and birth already come with their own set of anxieties and challenges. You’re wondering what to expect from birth, and now you’re forced to navigate your options during a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic creates a whole new set of worries and challenges for families during the childbearing year.
My Pregnancy and Birth Experience in the COVID-19 Pandemic
I was in the middle of my pregnancy when COVID-19 started to creep it’s way through the U.S. My 20-week ultrasound was coming up a few weeks after New York State instituted business shutdowns and restrictions. I really needed that information, and I was afraid that I would lose access to care.
One of the most challenging parts of this pregnancy was the lack of interaction with close family members, friends, and support professionals. I was home with a 5 yr old, 3 yr old, and 1 yr old, and I was absolutely exhausted without any support from anyone. It was incredibly difficult to get to any appointments because I lost my childcare at the time. My husband worked from home (and still does, now permanently) and that was very helpful.
This experience was incredibly isolating and lonely. I was stressed that something would happen and I would lose my prenatal care. I felt terrified of a transfer of care to a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, I lived in the stress, anxiety, and fear zone.
I found great comfort in caring for myself during this pregnancy. My kids enjoyed checking in with our baby with a fetoscope. I took very diligent care of myself and respected my intuition regarding my choices. I also gained a great sense of confidence and power through caring for myself.
Doula Support in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Also, as a DOULA, I walked with many of my clients through this time. Hospitals restricted visitation, and infection control policies initially banned doulas from supporting clients in person. Often, these policies seemed to change whimsically and it was incredibly difficult to prepare families for the challenges ahead.
Thankfully, New York State has now recognized doulas as essential members of the maternity care team. If you aren’t even sure if you can be there, then it is incredibly difficult to prepare an expecting family. As a birth worker, it stoked some of my greatest fears and deep feelings. Also, hospital policies changed all the time and were not consistent from location to location.
As a doula, this scenario presents many challenges. Firstly, we know that birth is ruled by physiology. Moving to a birth place is one of the “phases” in birth where physiology often goes awry. This is especially true when you don’t know what to expect, and even more true if you aren’t sure you’ll be supported. It destroys your confidence, peace, and power.
Tips to Support Your Birth Experience
I know you’re probably feeling anxious, concerned, and unsure of what to expect. Are you wondering how to have the best birth experience right now? I’d like to offer some ideas to consider for anyone who is pregnant and birthing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Release what you can’t control.
This time calls us all to move internally and go deep into our inner selves. Ask yourself the tough questions and move within. Discover what it is that you truly want. Trust your intuition. In an uncontrollable world, you can control your choices, actions, and mindset. Plan to be flexible and focus on what is in your power to control. Even in the pandemic, you are able to get in touch with what you really want and work towards that. Check out this past blog post to help you hone your intuition while planning your dream birth.
Care For Yourself
Focus on self care during this pandemic. Firstly, it will help you support a healthy pregnancy and birth. Caring for yourself includes caring for your nutrition, reducing stress, and moving your body regularly. Secondly, caring for yourself builds your connection with your body and hones your intuition. It can build confidence and help you tune in to your body and your baby. All of these things will help boost your immune system as well and keep you and your baby healthy.
Stay up to date on policies at your birthplace.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask your provider for a complete explanation of their current policies for prenatal appointments and do the same for your birth place. Hospital policies can change quickly, so don’t be afraid to call and ask about anything you may be concerned about. Make a plan for any “what-ifs” that may be swirling in your mind. Talk to your support team about any changes in plan and they can help you have the best birth experience possible. Also, know your rights and options ahead of time in case of any unexpected circumstances. Evidence Based Birth is a fantastic resource to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. They offer a sample informed consent form for refusal to separate birthing parent and infant.
Get a doula.
Your birth doula can help you navigate your options and provide support as you advocate for your rights as a birthing person. We attend births throughout the region and we are familiar with navigating current policies and procedures. Also, your doula can help you relax and find peace of mind in any unexpected situation.
I have my own personal experience of going through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum during COVID-19. I deeply understand the challenges families are facing, and I was able to have a calm and confident birth despite the challenges. You can do it too.
Did you experience pregnancy and birth during the COVID-19 pandemic? I would love to hear about your experience.
Want to GO DEEP and dive into your dreams for birth? What is it that you really want? How do you want to feel? Let’s make that a reality. I have a birth planning guide available in my shop that will walk you through the journey of planning a calm, comfortable, and confident birth experience.
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