Written by Dr Brooke Vandermolen @theobgynmum,www.thebirthcollective.org
Based on the evidence we have so far, pregnant women are still no more likely to contract coronavirus than the general population.
What we do know is that pregnancy in a small proportion of women can alter how your body handles severe viral infections. As yet, there is no evidence that pregnant women who get coronavirus are more at risk of serious complications than any other healthy individuals.
However as we do not fully understand the risks, and they may change when more evidence emerges, pregnant women are advised to take extra precaution to avoid catching coronavirus.
Here are some ideas for having a positive birth experience during this time of coronavirus
- Know what to expect – doing some antenatal classes virtually help you understand what to expect and prepare you for what you may see, and what choices you may have. Check out thebirthcollective.org for an online antenatal course that includes modules on preparing for birth, hypnobirthing and some advice specific to coronavirus!
- Video calling – to reduce the virus transmission, many hospitals are now advising that women should come to appointments and scans alone. For labour, @rcobsgyn declared in guidelines that you should be allowed to have one partner (without symptoms) for labour & birth. Having a trusted birth partner is known to make a significant difference to the safety and well-being of women in childbirth. If you can’t have your partner or partners you planned by your side, it is hoped that midwives can support you to FaceTime your partner at appropriate moments so you can feel their presence. You may want to buy a tripod for your phone for your hospital bag.
- Hypnobirthing – These techniques will be helpful in managing anxious and unhelpful thoughts. Practice with your partner in advance.
- Print out affirmations – These are statements you can put around your labour room to help focus your mindset and replace intrusive thoughts. There are some on @the.birthcollective instagram page, or write your own with your partner. eg “breathe in and relax, breathe out and release” “I control what I can & let go of what I can’t”
- Control your environment eg music, familiar smells, snacks that make you happy
- Notes from loved ones to read (or voice notes to listen to) eg words of encouragement from your mum
Birth Preferences to regain control
Even when everything feels outside your control, here are some things you can ask for during labour or before a C section. Knowing you can make some of your own choices can give you back that sense of balance and positivity:
Play your favourite music
Bring a speaker in your labour bag, and prepare a playlist! You get to choose what you want to listen to. The same is true if you are having a C section.
Be aware that if there are concerns for your baby’s wellbeing and a wider medical team is attending, they may lower or stop the music if the team needs to hear each other.
Be the first voice your baby hears
There’s often lots of noise in the run up to birth, but you can ask that if all seems to be ok, everyone is quiet after the birth so you and your partner can be the first to speak to your baby.
Delayed cord clamping
When babies are born approximately 1/3 of their blood volume is in the umbilical cord. If your baby and mum are well we can wait for the cord to stop pulsing to allow some of that blood to push back towards baby. This can even be done during C section if your surgeon is happy with it, and bleeding is not too heavy.
Ask to see the sex of your baby before anyone tells you
If you waited your whole pregnancy to find out if you are having a boy or a girl, you can ask for your baby to be held up so you see for yourself and even have a snapshot taken of your face when you see for the first time.
Skin to skin
Maximise your oxytocin levels and provide baby with early warmth and reassurance by having time with your baby’s skin directly on yours. Even if baby has to be taken briefly to be checked, you or your partner can have skin to skin as soon as safely possible.
Dr Brooke Vandermolen is an Obstetrics & Gynaecology doctor, & mum of 2. She shares tips for pregnancy & women’s health in general at @theobgynmum, and her online antenatal classes are available now on www.thebirthcollective.org