If you’re an expectant parent — particularly for the first time — it’s not unusual to worry about experiencing pregnancy and labor, having a healthy baby and adapting to life with a newborn.
Having your baby in the Age of Covid-19 may increase your level of concern. However, knowing what to expect and how to keep yourself and those around you healthy and safe will help you navigate your way through pregnancy and delivery during the pandemic — feeling calmer, more confident and joyful. Read on for details.
Changes During the Pandemic
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many practices, hospitals and birthing centers have amended their procedures. Policies continue to evolve as new information on Covid-19 becomes available. Be sure to keep abreast of changes within the practice and the facility that you choose, and discuss any concerns you may have with your healthcare provider. Also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for updated Covid-19 guidelines and recommendations: www.cdc.gov.
If you have yet to decide on your hospital, clinic or birth center, keep in mind that many facilities have discontinued personal tours, and you may have to rely on virtual tours while exploring your best options. Speak to your usual providers, your friends and relatives for suggestions, and do your own research on potential options as well. You and your baby always will be safest under the care of trained healthcare professionals.
Healthcare Provider Visits
To avoid potential exposure to the virus, many healthcare providers have decreased the number of routine prenatal care visits for low-risk patients with no health issues or special concerns.
You may experience fewer in-person visits as well. Telemedicine allows you to practice social distancing as you consult with your provider from your home, office, car or other space, with the help of technology.
Your provider will let you know when you need to have an in-person visit, an ultrasound or bloodwork (depending on the practice, some bloodwork may be done in a lab offsite). To minimize the risk of exposure in waiting rooms, many facilities space apart in-person checkups. Depending on the practice location, you may be able to wait in your car or outside the building until your provider is ready to see you.
You may be required to come to your appointment alone. You will be screened and have your temperature checked prior to seeing your provider. You and everyone you encounter at the practice will be wearing a mask. Healthcare personnel also use personal protective equipment.
Childbirth Education Classes
Childbirth education is an important, enjoyable component of preparing for birth. Due to the need for social distancing during the pandemic, in-person classes may not be possible so it’s best to investigate online options, read as much as you can about pregnancy and talk with women who have experienced pregnancy and birth. Phone calls, texts and online chats are the safest ways to connect with them.
Labor and Delivery
To reduce the risk of Covid-19, facilities that may have allowed multiple visitors in the past may now permit only one healthy, screened, registered support person (spouse, partner, sister, doula) during labor and delivery and, possibly, postpartum.
This person will be required to wear a mask, as will everyone in the facility. Your providers will be using personal protective equipment. You may have to wear a mask part of the time in the delivery room.
Speaking with your provider beforehand and knowing the signs of labor will allow you to delay going to the hospital until necessary, to avoid spending extra time at the facility.
Upon arrival, you will most likely be screened and tested for Covid-19, even if you have no symptoms. Anyone testing positive will be cared for in a separate area to prevent the risk of infection to others.
Meeting Your Newborn
Staying informed, knowing what to expect and following CDC Covid-19 safety guidelines and recommendations will increase your level of confidence as you experience pregnancy and labor — followed by the joy of seeing your baby.