Birth in the Time of Covid Tip by Sue Balen
TIP : Who ever thought that your time of wonder and miracles would be overshadowed by a pandemic?
There are so many difficulties that people are facing – from minor annoyances to a variety of life-threatening concerns – that it’s hard for some pregnant women to acknowledge the many things they are losing even if they don’t have to contend with the worst of the worst. We are all getting used to this new way of being – for a while – and as we do there are many new insights developing.
For some people it’s a return to the idea of birthing at home.
I’ve talked to so many people over the past few weeks who have told me they always dreamed of having a homebirth, or they are intrigued by the idea but they didn’t pursue it, and now that we are trying not to overtax our medical system or take unnecessary risks of contact with Covid-19, homebirth seems like a better and better option.
It’s not just the people who are due this spring while we are sheltering in place that feel this way, but people who are due in the fall and winter are also realizing there are some advantages in planning a homebirth and taking advantage of midwifery care – even if some of it by videochat.
But whether or not homebirth is for you, here’s a list of 7 things that you should consider while gestating in the time of C-19.
- Protect yourself. Take all the precautions you can. Wear a mask, wash your hands, ask people around you to wear masks. We know that SarsCoV2 is not as dangerous to pregnant people as H1N1 was, but we also know it’s better not to be sick. It also seems that birth while sick with Covid-19 has its own set of risks so those are births that are better done in the hospital.
- Strengthen yourself. Consider taking a daily dose of Vitamin D to build up your levels.
Vit D has been shown to play a role in protection against respiratory viral infections. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27838350/) as well as many other disease states (https://vitamindwiki.com/Chart+of+Vitamin+D+levels+vs+disease+-+Grassroots+Health+June+2013).
- #ShareYourBump. There is an innate hopefulness and optimism about seeing pregnancy out in the world. If we can’t all be out there safely we can at least show it on Instagram.
- Find online support groups and make time for yourself to share, celebrate and kvetch with other people in the same stage of life. I know we’re all experiencing videochat fatigue but some meetings are more important than others. And of course, take time for Jane’s classes where you can both to develop community and move your body in helpful ways! Natural Resources also has a full calendar of support groups happening online.
- Nurture yourself with really good food. For many of us sheltering in place has brought the profound benefit of more home-cooked food. As Julie Thomas wrote, “cooking sends yourself a message that you are important,” and so much more ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/benefits-of-cooking-for-others_n_5967858ae4b0a0c6f1e67a15). Before SIP it was so easy to be too busy for this, but we have fewer excuses now.
- Journal. Your child is going to want to hear stories about how everyone stayed home once upon a time when they were growing inside. We hope this is a once in a lifetime experience. Document some of it for posterity as well as all the other beautiful benefits of sitting with our feelings and organizing them in some way.
- Educate yourself. Evidenced-Based Birth has a free birthing class on YouTube about birthing in the time of Covid-19. https://evidencebasedbirth.com/birthing-in-the-time-of-covid-19/.
Wherever you plan to give birth, know what to expect. Some of the protocols are changing weekly but you’ll be happier if you know who can be there to support you, who can connect virtually, what you’ll see in the environment.
There’s a good chance you’ll be supported by a sea of masked faces and that can feel a little alienating sometimes. If you don’t know the team well, ask to see pictures of them so you can feel more oriented. (Unless you’re in the full on throes of active labor – and then just go inward and be your warrior self!)