Hey there mama. We wish we didn’t have to write this post. And we know you wish you didn’t have to read it. But here we are, together.
As you’ve probably seen, there’s been a lot of buzz lately regarding new hospital policies that restrict or limit the number of people that can be in the hospital with a woman during and after childbirth. It first popped up on our newswires back in March when New York Presbyterian — a hospital in the epicenter of the US coronavirus crisis — stated that partners would not be allowed to join women during childbirth. Full stop.
About a week later (though it sure felt like longer) government officials stepped in to overrule that policy, stating that no woman would be forced to give birth alone. To Governor Cuomo we say, three cheers. An article in The New Yorker covered the rollercoaster story and titled it “A Chaotic Week for Pregnant Women In New York City“, and while that it was, we also want to make it clear that it’s been a chaotic month for pregnant women and new mothers. Everywhere.
Hospital policies across the globe have been changing faster than any of us can keep track of, so we won’t go into what the current policies are, largely because they are so different from hospital to hospital, state to state, country to country. And it seems (like everything else) things are changing on a day to day basis.
But we’ve been getting lots of questions and seeing the comments pop up on the Baby2Body Squad and across our social channels — and that’s why it was important to us to write this post; to give you support on how to prepare and cope with giving birth during this pandemic.
And with that comes our first tip:
1. Become informed about what’s going on in your area, at your local hospital, because right now that’s all you can react to.
Trying to take in everything that’s happening everywhere will surely drain you and spike your anxiety (trust us on that). Look into what the policies are in the hospital you plan to give birth at, pay attention to their updates, and plan according to that.
Which brings us to our next tip, which is all about what those hospitals are trying to do:
2. Remember the why: these decisions are for your health and safety, that of your baby, and that of all the healthcare workers on the front lines of this pandemic.
We know all of this feels so unfair, but we implore you to remember the why behind all of this. Our healthcare force is out there every day battling the reality of COVID-19 that so many of us are shielded from. These policies are being put in place to protect them so they can keep doing their job of keeping us all healthy, and that includes you and your little one.
Before we go any further we want to acknowledge that childbirth in normal times comes with its own anxieties. Childbirth in the time of a pandemic? It’s next level. But here’s the thing:
Women are capable of anything. The strength of a mother is immeasurable. And if we’re being honest… having your partner there just means one more person you have to worry about taking care of. Did that give you a little bit of comic relief? We hope so.
Now, if you find yourself nearing your due date and facing unprecedented anxieties, here are some more tips to help you through:
3. Give yourself permission to grieve
Any woman who has been through childbirth before will tell you that no birth plan ever (like, ever) goes according to plan. But a lot of times you don’t get to that point until you’re really in it and then things all start happening so fast and next thing you know you’re through it. These recent policy changes are causing so many women to realize that the birth plan they’ve worked so hard now has to change, and maybe drastically. And you might have to sit with that for a while. Let yourself process that loss, it’s OK to grieve this. Give yourself the time you need to move through that.
4. But don’t toss out that birth plan…
So many of us are learning how to do normal in-person things on a virtual or socially-distanced level. The creativity of humans is astounding in this regard (just check any of the good news Instagram accounts — we’re looking at you Upworthy) and we know you can muster up some good ideas too. If you do have a birth plan in place, try to look at it through a new lens. See what aspects you can keep with simple twists, and modify where necessary.
5. Use the heck out of FaceTime
Or Zoom. Or Skype. Or whatever video calling platform you love. Make sure your phone or tablet and a long charging cord (this is key) are packed and ready to go. You can keep your partner — or any loved ones! — right in the room with you. And honestly a nice perk of this is if your partner starts saying things that are V annoying or V unhelpful, that mute button is right there. We’re just saying…
6. Make a playlist together
Music connects us all — over space and time. It’s just one of those things. If you already have a playlist you’ve made for the day, that’s great. If not, put a playlist of your favorite songs together so you can both listen to at the same time, no matter where you are.
7. Bring something from home
You know how when you get a puppy oftentimes you’ll be sent home with a blanket that smells of the puppy’s mother and litter mates? It’s because smells are so comforting, and the same goes for humans. Bring a t-shirt of your partner’s with you so you can have that comfort of smell when you need it. It may sound a little funny but hey, times are weird, and if we have to be weird to get through it, we will.
8. Stay connected through touch
OK you’re probably thinking we’re crazy but give this one a read! It may sound cheesy, but have you heard of long distance bracelets? It’s a set of bracelets with the premise of ‘when you touch it, they feel it’. Basically, when you touch the bracelet it buzzes the wrist of your partner, and vice versa. As we referenced before, your partner may not come with the best verbal support, but it’s that physical touch that we know you’ll want to rely on. We know it’s not as good as the real thing, but it’s one way to create that connection and help you through this.
9. Treat all of this like your partner is the coach, and you’re the athlete (which you are)
This was always yours to take across the finish line. You two are a still a team, and you’ve done all the prep together, but you are ready for this moment. You have the power and the strength you need to get this done and bring home a happy, healthy baby.
The last thing we want to touch on is that we know this can be so hard for your partner as well. Losing the opportunity to be in hospital to meet your baby (or babies) for the first time, and sharing that experience together breaks our hearts too. We’re getting that tight throat feeling just writing about it. But you will still have your first moment. Your partner will still have their first moment. Once you look into babies eyes it won’t matter where you are or how it all happened. You’re still a family, and you always will be.
We’d love to hear how you’re approaching this whole situation and what you’re doing to cope with childbirth changes in light of the coronavirus pandemic. We know it’s not just our Baby2Body moms going through this, so please share with a friend that might need to read this too. Sending strength to you all. Xx