Months ago, I got a positive pregnancy test. I eliminated my coffee (for the first trimester), my wine, and started frantically planning to prepare for this major life change. One thing you absolutely can’t plan for, however, is your due date falling right in the middle of a global pandemic. How can you possibly prepare for what it’s like giving birth during coronavirus?
I know there are lots of pregnant mamas out there. You may be googling what it’s like giving birth during the coronavirus, wondering what to expect (like I was). I couldn’t find much on the topic, although that was early April. Anyway, now that things have settled down a bit in my house, I wanted to recap my experience so you can be better prepared for when you go into the hospital. This is my first child, and I live in Nebraska, where the coronavirus outbreak isn’t as bad as other places. This was also in early April, so things may have changed since then. However, if you asked pregnant, google-searching me…any information helps!
Here’s 5 things that were noticeably different when giving birth during coronavirus.
1: Only one visitor in the hospital…the entire time
I had a doula paid and planned to come. I was looking into birth photographers. My parents were going to come up, my husbands mom was planning on heading out as soon as she heard the word that we were going to the hospital to make it there in time.
But, when you give birth during a global pandemic, all these plans go out the door. The entire hospital stay, you are only allowed one visitor. Obviously, I chose my husband. However, when talking to my doulas later, they said that some of their clients were choosing them. That shocked me, only because whoever comes in with you is the only visitor you are allowed the entire duration of your stay.
My doula tried to FaceTime in. My parents called, and so did my husband’s. Calling and video calling just isn’t the same. However… on the plus side, we had time together as a little family of three and I had time to recover without anyone but the nurses popping in. On the negative side, none of my family or my husband’s have even met the little man yet and that breaks my heart.
2: Screening for coronavirus symptoms at the hospital door
Would you have it any other way? At the door when you come in, you get screened for symptoms, along with your one visitor who is with you. A temperature check and an interrogation later, you can continue having a baby. Also, with pregnancy, a lot of the virus symptoms mirror just being pregnant. Out of breath? Yes, I have a 7 pound baby pressing against my lungs. Nose running? Yes, that’s a pregnancy symptom as well.
After you are screened, you’re wheeled up like normal, besides everyone wearing masks…which brings me to point three.
3: You have to wear masks while giving birth during coronavirus
One thing that totally bummed me out and I cried about (pregnancy hormones, I think) is wearing masks while giving birth during coronavirus. I think the nurses took it easier on me, because I didn’t have to wear mine if I was in my room contained, until I started pushing. My husband, on the other hand, along with every nurse, doctor, hospital employee, etc. had to wear masks.
It’s not quite as comforting or memorable to only see your husbands eyes when your child is placed in your arms. The initial skin to skin with your baby isn’t quite what you imagined it when you have a mask in your way. You can’t kiss his little head. You try to look down at him and see your mask partially in the way.
Look, I understand the need for masks. I’m not dissing them. However, I am saying that it changed how I imagined the moment being. It was still magical. But just…different. And I got very emotional about it, so I imagine other moms would want a heads up.
Once we got to our permanent room after labor, we could take them off. However, the minute we left the room for any reason, we had to put them back on. Little man stayed in our room the entire time unless he had to leave for a medical reason. I’m not sure if that’s normal or not–but in movies you always see the baby in the room with all the other babies, and that literally never happened with us!
4: Early release from the hospital when you give birth during coronavirus
It turns out that the hospital wants to either get you out for your own family’s safety, or for the good of the hospital. It makes sense. I was expecting a 2-3 day stay at minimum. Let the nurses show me how to care for my baby and the tear I received while giving birth. Let me get a little sleep, maybe. (Spoiler alert: I got 2 hours of sleep the entire duration of my labor and stay afterwards).
My labor was relatively short. I got to the hospital at around 1:30-2:00 AM, and had him in my arms by 10:17 AM. Then, we got released just 24 hours after that. 24 hours! That’s it! I definitely understand why they were doing the early release. I’m actually a little glad, minus the fact that I don’t think I truly got instructions for caring for myself within that short amount of time.
Staying at the hospital, for me, wasn’t great anyway. I’m a certified diva about my beds, and I hated the hospital bed. We didn’t sleep much at all anyway, because little bebe (Schitt’s Creek reference..had to do it) wanted to be held 24/7. He still likes to be held, so that hasn’t changed much! Also, with the nurses coming in every hour or so, it felt almost pointless to sleep.
5: Getting home and those first couple of weeks
This is where I’m truly guessing because I don’t know what the first days are like with a newborn in the first place. However, those first couple of days being home were extremely difficult for my husband and I. First of all, we didn’t really know what we were doing. At all. But, who does?
Secondly, I couldn’t keep track of when to feed him, when to change his diaper, when to take my medicine and which medicine to take, when I last slept, and when I last showered or did anything for myself. However, I am thinking this is pretty standard for all new moms out there.
Third, our little bebe wouldn’t leave our arms for a minute without screaming. So, we took shifts. Even overnight shifts. Because, when you can’t have visitors come to your house without possibly contaminating your newborn, you don’t have visitors to help you hold him. Plus, everyone is on a stay at home order (except for Nebraska, but our family all lives in states that are on one).
My husband and I were running on fumes. We still kind of are, but at least bebe will lay in his bassinet (sometimes). Our family and friends constantly text, video call, and call to give us support. It’s kind of like a visit, but digital, and more unexpected. There’s a lot of times I leave things unanswered, because it gets crazy with a newborn, and my husband is already working again digitally, so I’m using my energy to take care of him (and to write this blog post) instead of talk to people. Sorry to everyone that I have ignored lately.
Another thing is, we had to bring him to the hospital for a check up test. They only let one of us in with him because of coronavirus. I had to sit in the car, sobbing, while my husband and little man went in alone. At that moment, I wasn’t really emotionally stable enough to go in with him on my own. Thank goodness for my husband!
In the end, giving birth during coronavirus is still magical
Look, there are definitely things I would change about my experience. Would I choose to give birth during a global pandemic again? Uhh, probably not. However, it happened. And everything still is okay. It’s better than okay. I’m home with my little guy. He’s doing great and we are getting into somewhat of a routine. Each of the negatives can be turned into a positive.
- Not being able to have visitors just allows you and your family to figure things out on your own.
- Screening at the door makes you positive that you don’t have the symptoms of the virus.
- Wearing a mask during skin to skin just makes you more thankful for the time you have with your little one without a mask.
- Getting home early means less time in the hospital.
- Those first couple of rough days and weeks after getting home just allow you to know that you and your family can get through anything.
So, mama’s out there…if you’re afraid of giving birth during coronavirus, don’t be. We are already strong. We have carried a child for 9 months, and it’s time to bring it into the world, no matter how “inconvenient” the time might seem. This just makes us stronger, and, as cliche as it sounds, we are a part of history now. This is a moment that you and your family will already never forget. One day you’ll be telling your little one the story of how they entered the world during a global pandemic.