Updated: Apr 26, 2020
We are all in unchartered waters.
My heart is broken for anyone who isn't getting the birth situation they planned and prepared for.
Flexibility and compassion are what we need to be driving our ship. Be easy on yourself, and your emotions in this trying time. You need to grieve what isn't. That is totally ok.
I know you're upset. You wanted your mom, your sister, or your doula at your birth. You hired a birth photographer for your babies debut.
Now the hospital is on lockdown and you are allowed one support person who has zero in and out privileges.
Here is our best doula advice for birthing in a hospital during COVID 19.
Your arrival to the hospital.
Do you have a midwife? then your midwife will ideally have been in touch with you, and you may be skipping triage. If so your parter will be able to come in at the same time as you.
If you have an OB:
Depending on how you are coping this situation can vary. BUT what you need to know if your partner will not be allowed in until you are admitted. That means you will be going into the delivery unit on your own and heading to triage. You can let your partner know when you are being moved into a delivery room. This time can be 15 minutes, or it could be 6 hours...
Assuming you are in a labour pattern when you are getting to the hospital, you will not be able to leave your vehicle in any short term parking spaces. Your partner will not be allowed to come in and out of your delivery room so you need to park where the car can be left for days. That's right, the parking garage.
Ideally there will be a wheelchair close: but prepare yourself you may have to walk a bit when you get there to find one. Walking is WONDERFUL in labour and I encourage you to give it your best shot to try to walk yourself.
Your labouring partner will need to get ALL of your things, including your car seat into the maternity floor. This is a pain in the ass. I wish I could give you different advice, but you will have no way of going back for anything so it is all coming. Think about that when you pack. Talk to experts about what is ESSENTIAL and what isn't. These things will likely be coming with you to three different rooms. Triage (what you need for triage you should carry in a large purse or backpack, Delivery and Post Partum. I suggest packing cubes in a rolling suit case for easy transfer.
PACKING: Pack in one suit case, with packing cubes to increase organization. Label cubes with stickers for your partner. "Mom's stuff" "Baby stuff" "Dad's stuff" "stuff for in Post partum" ect. That way everything has a place. Put your pillow from home in there if you're bringing it.
Have your health card handy in a light purse with a hair elastic, lip chap, and wallet. This should be with your triage stuff.
Snacks/food: You will not be able to leave the room to go to the cafeteria AT ALL during the birth. Once in post partum, limited trips to the cafeteria will be allowed, but VERY minimal.
Cesareans - no support people are being allowed into C-sections at this time. That means your partner will not be allowed to come in. He can wait in recovery for the baby, and do skin to skin at that time. I encourage partners to wear a zip up hoodie to snuggle with baby while waiting for mom, and enjoy that skin to skin special time.
Birthing persons, this can be extremely traumatic. Please trust your medical team knows you are scared and alone and they will do their very best to support you in the absence of your partner. They dislike this situation as well, and do not wish you harm. Let them be there for you. Let them hear you. Ask questions.
Partners, take this time to text the birthing person, or send a voice note. You will be alone, and the time will feel obnoxiously long. Call your family. Call a friend. Play candy crush.
During Delivery. If your extra support person isn't there, do what you can to prepare your partner to fill that gap. If you had a doula hired, ideally they have instructed you on some tips and tricks and will still be available to you for early labour, or virtually, or both. Check out our previous blog post 'Turning your Partner into a Doula".
Post Partum. Your partner as of now is allowed to stay with you in the recovery area of the hospital, but not allowed to leave the premises. Make sure you have arrangements for any animals that could stay in place for at least 3 days just in case of a cesarean, and clean underwear/deodorant for your partner (you need to find the humour in these things).
Coming home: You've imagined what it would be like, your mom helping out, your aunties bringing food, your grandma snuggling your baby. That unfortunately isn't going to work right now. I would say however IF you need your mom's help after baby. She could quarantine herself for two weeks before your due date, and then be safe to move in with you on lockdown. I think that is completely realistic. Other visitors should be limited to window viewing and porch drop offs. Honestly many cultures encourage rest for up to 40 days, the universe is making it SO easy for you to do that. Consider it a wonderful gift and spend time each day face timing your loved ones.
Studies coming out of the UK now are even stating their breastfeeding success rates are going up because of parents being completely uninterrupted. The effects of a couple of pop in visitors a day on your breastfeeding are hard to measure, but do exist. Even if you aren't serving food and drinks, you are EMOTIONALLY entertaining. You are not able to check in on your baby sleep and feeding cues, and your own opportunities for napping are few and far between. In isolation you can really marinate in those early weeks of skin to skin, cuddles, tv, and bonding.