Hey all you mama’s-to-be! These strange times may have questioning your birth plan and wondering what you should expect. To shed light on this topic, Tanya of Tennessee Family Doulas is sharing how to prepare for birth during a pandemic along with ways that her team can help. Are doulas allowed to be in the room when you give birth? What precautions should you take? Should you pack anything extra into your hospital bag? Get these questions and more answered in the interview with Tanya below!
How can parents best plan for a birth during a pandemic at a hospital or birthing center?
Tanya: The pandemic has meant a change to hospital visitor policies and has also caused new parents to re-evaluate their plans for visitors following birth. To best plan, new parents should ask their OB or Midwife about policy changes regarding appointments and reach out to their chosen birth place (hospital or birth center) to find out what the exact policies are and how that will impact their experience. Policies seem to be stable right now, but can change rapidly as the number of infected individuals increases. Check in frequently (monthly in early pregnancy and weekly in the last trimester) to make sure that you have the correct information.
How can pregnant mamas physically prepare for birth during COVID-19?
Tanya: They should focus on their own health, and use extra care and precaution during this time. This may look like wearing a mask when in public, frequent hand washing, avoiding crowded areas – basically following the CDC guidelines. They can also eat immune boosting foods, get adequate sleep, and stay hydrated – which are honestly things that are helpful to pregnant individuals any time – not just in a pandemic. Regarding a packing list for the hospital or birth center, be sure to include a mask for their partner and one for them. Because birth can include lots of heavy breathing and vocalization, masks can be helpful, but not a requirement.
How can expectant mamas prepare for birth mentally during COVID-19?
Tanya: Birth will look a little different during this time. Prepare for everyone in the room (nurses, staff, and OBs/Midwives) to be wearing a mask. Prepare for only having your partner with you and possibly your doula. No other visitors are currently being allowed in during Labor or during your postpartum stay. Prepare to have someone stay with other children at home, if you have them. If you are going to allow visitors to your home once you get home from giving birth, make sure those individuals are limiting their own exposure to COVID-19. Some families choose to require all visitors take part in a strict 2-week quarantine before being allowed to visit their new baby. Each family has to assess their risk-tolerance level and do what feels best to them. Having visitors partake in frequent hand washing and wearing masks can allow you to feel safer and still enjoy the company of your loved ones.
How does the job of a doula change during COVID-19?
Tanya: As labor doulas, we are limited by hospital policy in some cases – so that may look like supporting the birthing parents in early labor in their home and then providing virtual support once they are in the hospital. In hospitals where we are allowed, we wash hands frequently and wear masks the entire time to protect our clients and hospital staff. As postpartum doulas, we are personally limiting our exposure to the virus and we frequently wash hands and are willing to wear a mask when we are supporting families in-home. We match doulas and clients with similar risk tolerances, so that everyone feels happy and safe with the arrangement. This is such a vulnerable time for our clients, and we want to do everything in our power to keep them safe and healthy. We also can provide virtual support to clients who prefer that option during this time. Doula support is 3-fold – we provide physical, emotional, and educational support. In the case of virtual support, we can’t physically be there, but we do provide emotional and educational support, which is where our doulas shine.
Who should the parents consult when wondering what to expect at the hospital or birthing center during labor & delivery?
Tanya: They should consult their OB/Midwife and the Hospital or Birthing Center. Numbers for the Hospital or Birthing Center can be found online.
How can Tennessee Family Doulas help provide support during the pandemic?
Tanya: We are available to provide our full support for those clients who desire it – Labor Support, Postpartum & Infant Care Support, and Placenta Encapsulation. We are also offering online Childbirth Education and Newborn Care Education in a virtual classroom setting. For those clients who would prefer to limit physical exposure, we are available for Virtual Support in both Labor and Postpartum & Newborn Care Support.
What resources does Tennessee Family Doulas provide for expectant mamas during COVID-19?
Tanya: We have several email series that are really helpful! There is a Pregnancy Week-by-Week email series, a Postpartum Recovery 4-week series, and a Baby’s First Year monthly series. We also have Virtual Childbirth Education Classes and Virtual Newborn Care Classes! We are also offering 30-minute consults to anyone who would like some additional support during this time.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Tanya: This pandemic has been a crazy time for everyone. We are especially compassionate to families who are pregnant and bringing home a new baby during this time. We know that isolation, lack of sleep, and stress can lead to postpartum mood disorders, so we are making ourselves available to support families who desire it during this time. We love our community and know that Doula Support during this time is maybe more important than ever before.
Thanks so much for sharing your insight on how to prepare for birth during a pandemic, Tanya! If you’re looking for more support during your pregnancy, birth, or even postpartum, be sure to reach out to Tennessee Family Doulas here and on Instagram!