When you have a birth plan but life throws you a curveball in the form of a global pandemic, what do you do?
...Eat ice cream, breathe deeply and pretend the whole thing was fake news? Well, yes, that too. But, there are some precautions that mums-to-be should be aware of.
Many mums plan their birth journeys down to their hospital pjs and the *delicious* pots of Nipple SOS they want to use after their first feed. 😏🤩 Pregnancy hormones can drive us to despair when these small details don’t go to plan. Listen closely on ward and you’ll hear mummas blubbing “where’s my lanolin-free award winning nipple balm?!”
We want all our mummas to stay as safe as possible, but official advice can be a little unfeeling. That’s not what us mummas need at a time when we’re feeling ALL the emotions! So, we’re sharing the latest advice you need, with a touch of positive Nessa magic.
Guideline #1: Only one birth partner will be allowed, to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Most mums opt to have one main birth partner, anyway. It would be chaos in antenatal classes if mums all brought their first choice, understudy and some spares. Keep planning to give birth with your partner of choice, but have a back-up plan. Ask a parent, sibling or best friend if they’ll step in if needed. That way, if your partner has to self-isolate, you’ve still got the support you need to boss that birth!
Need something to keep you occupied during isolation? If your lockdown comprises twiddling your thumbs in between trips to the loo, run a contest! Turn your Zoom quiz night into a birth partner extravaganza. Make your loved ones go head to head to earn the role as chief understudy! Quiz them on your fave post-birth snacks, items in your hospital bag and your birthing preferences. It might give you an hour of laughs and get you back in the birthing driving seat.
Guideline #2: Home births and water births may not be going ahead at this time.
Home births rely on the availability of ambulance services and sufficient staff to allow for rapid transfer to hospital. If these are not in place, you may be informed that this service is unavailable.
Okay, so it’s likely to be good old bed birthing in the Midwifery-led unit. This might be super disappointing if you’d planned differently. We get it, mummas. This is a huge moment for you and your new baby.
Let’s focus on the positives. You’ll be in safe hands with professionals taking care of you. Your birthing partner can be there to lend a hand to squish and a shoulder to happy cry on. Safety is, of course, the most important thing for you and your new baby. 💕
If you’re missing out on a water birth, milk it when you get home (and we don’t just mean your boobs)! Pick a moment when your bubba’s sleeping or someone can watch them. Run yourself a warm bath and pop on some relaxing music. Remember the positive healing properties you loved about the water birth concept, and channel them onto your amazing postpartum body. New mum life can be a little crazy, but you always deserve self-care.
Guideline #3: Mums who’ve had suspected or confirmed Coronavirus are advised to go to an obstetric unit for birth.
If you have been unwell, you should have extra medical care. It makes sense to be in an obstetric unit. Here, doctors and midwives are present to monitor you and your baby. In these units, your baby can be monitored using continuous electronic fetal monitoring. Professionals can also monitor your oxygen levels hourly. This continuous monitoring will check how your baby is coping with labour.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be passed from mother to baby in the womb. Pregnant women are thought not to be more vulnerable to the disease. This precaution is simply because you and your baby are very important to the NHS. If you had any kind of illness during pregnancy, your midwife would want to take extra special care of you.
Think of this as the A-list star treatment ladies. If giving birth were a spa day (which we can inform, it is not), this would be the platinum package with complimentary robe and fizz. ✨✨
Guideline #4: Mum’s who’ve had Coronavirus should be able to give birth vaginally.
The NHS birth guidelines state that your birth plans should be followed as closely as possible based on your wishes. Thank you, NHS, for validating mums’ choices at this time! 🙏 There’s no evidence that suggests you’d be safer having a caesarean birth.
However, if you are struggling to breathe, and require urgent delivery, a cesarean birth may be recommended. Again, your and your baby’s safety will be paramount, as ever. If the thought of a C-section makes you nervous, we encourage you to chat about it with your midwife beforehand. They will help put your mind at ease and remind you that you will be taken care of.
Remember mummas, there is no right or wrong way to bring your child into the world. Around 1 in 4 UK mums give birth via C-section and it’s very routine.
Guideline #5: Pain relief options shouldn’t be affected for mums with coronavirus symptoms, but your midwife will discuss your options.
Mums with coronavirus should be able to have an epidural or spinal block, as there’s no evidence to suggest that they shouldn’t. However, ‘gas and air’ (Entonox) may increase the spread of the virus. Your team will discuss all your pain relief options in early labour, to make sure you’re aware of all your options.
Mindful birthing is a wonderful strategy to help you through the experience. Whether you decide to use pain relief or not, it’s a powerful tool for regulating your breathing and reducing anxiety. Find out more information on mindful birthing on our NESSPERT Instagram series with Clodagh from the Dream Birth Company.
Guideline #6: If you go into labour whilst in self-isolation, you should follow this advice:
Let your maternity unit know that you have coronavirus symptoms and have gone into labour. If you have mild symptoms, you will be asked to remain home during early labour. This is standard practice. Your maternity team will respect your birth plan and have been advised on providing safe, quality care.
When you and your maternity team decide you need to attend the unit, these guidelines will apply:
- You will be advised to attend hospital via private transport where possible, or call 111/999 for advice as appropriate.
- You will be met at the maternity unit entrance and provided with a surgical face mask, which will need to stay on until you are isolated in a suitable room
- Your birth partner will be able to stay with you throughout, but visitors should be kept to a minimum.
Take positivity into motherhood
Mummas to be, giving birth will be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. This crisis can’t take that away from you. When your bubba arrives, all the madness will subside. Those precious first moments when you meet your squishy little bundle of joy will stay with you forever.
It’s horrible feeling like your options have been taken away from you. But these guidelines are in place for the safety of you and your bubba. We hope you find them helpful and that you’re not feeling too overwhelmed. The important thing to remember is that your wishes will be prioritised. You and your baby will be well taken care of and the whole experience will be worth it.
We have every faith in our strong Nessa community of warrior mums. If you need any further advice or want some extra resources, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’ll link some references below for further reading.
Sending all our love and congratulations on your bonnie Springtime bubbas,
Latest COVID-19 birth guidelines: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/#choices
Information on C-sections: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/caesarean-section/