Looking back at last year, we had no idea how COVID-19 would change the way that we live. It has crept into every facet of our lives. We have had to change the way that we work, learn, bury our loved ones, and socialise. Nothing is “normal” anymore. COVID-19 has had a profound impact on women who are pregnant. The ability for pregnant women to receive health care and general support from friends and loved ones have changed drastically. Pregnancy is a time where a woman and her partner need to be supported and have their regular medical checkups to help them have a healthy baby.
Our new normal does not allow for large baby showers, friends popping over for a chat and a cuddle of your baby. Grandparents can’t visit in hospital and in some NICU visitation to the baby is very limited. So how then does a woman and her partner prepare for pregnancy and the time when your baby comes home?
Here are 5 topics to consider:
Social distancing / Self Isolation during and after pregnancy:
The current research suggests that women who contract COVID-19 while pregnant have an increased risk of severe illness and death compared to non-pregnant women. They also have an increased risk of having adverse pregnancy outcomes like prematurity. Over the last year we have learnt that it is almost impossible to have no risk of contracting COVID but if you do need to leave your house, you can consider the risk of the activity. This will allow you to plan and put in place ways to reduce the risks. There may even be some activities you will have to avoid.
In general, the more people you have close and prolonged contact with will increase your risk of getting COVID-19. You also need to consider the actions of the people that you live with and how they are interacting with other people.
The best way to protect yourselves from contracting COVID-19 is to limit interactions with people. Steps that you can take when you need to interact with others are: Wear a mask over your nose and mouth, try to keep about 2m away from other people, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and if indoors try to be in a well-ventilated room.
Events like baby showers, shopping for baby items and visit of friends once baby is home, need to be rethought as to how to make it safer for you and your baby. Some baby shower ideas are online zoom parties or drive by and drop off the gifts and a note. What ever you decide to do, consider the risks and how to reduce them. My Breastpump has an online store where you can have breastfeeding items delivered to your home: https://bit.ly/3obw7vH
Look after your health.
Keep all your health care appointments. Talk to your health care provider about the safest way to deliver your baby. You might consider having a home birth with a Midwife or giving birth in hospital.
Eat a health balanced diet and take all your vitamin and mineral supplements. Keep active so that you are strong for the delivery.
Find online antenatal classes to help you prepare for your delivery. The class should include information on different delivery types, how to recover from delivery, information of how to care for your baby once you get back home and are breastfeeding.
Finding out what your hospitals policies are around COVID.
It is best to know what the hospital policy is regarding COVID testing before delivery, your partners ability to see your baby, what if you do have COVID and visitation during hospital stay for family members. This will help you to be prepared and to pack your maternity bag accordingly.
Many hospitals are not allowing non-parents to visit in the maternity ward. This may be lonely and scary, but it does allow you and your partner to have a baby-moon, where you both can focus on getting to know your little one, gives you time to learn how to breast feed and allows you to rest and recover after your delivery.
Learn as much as you can about breast feeding.
Breast feeding, although it is natural, is a learnt skill that you and your baby will need to learn. It is important to know how to breastfeed, what is normal and learn as much about breastfeeding before you give birth. Include your partner so that he will be able to help you if and when you need it. There are many videos that you can watch on YouTube about breastfeeding with a deep latch. You can visit our website for more information on breastfeeding and expressing milk.
It is highly recommended that you find a lactation consultant that can give you an online breastfeeding workshop while you are pregnant. This gives you the necessary information to breastfeed well and someone you know that can help you if you need the help. If you would like to book a consultation with Carey a SACLC please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on a breastfeeding workshop.
Have a plan for when you get home.
The first few weeks after the birth can be difficult due to sleep deprivation and learning to care for your new child. COVID-9 just makes it so much harder because we are all social distancing. Have a plan or ideas of how you are going to make life simpler for yourself. Firstly, let your family know about visitation and how you would like them to interact with your new baby. Let them know what you would like: No visit policy, Visit but you can only look though the window or you can visit but you must wear a mask and sanitise.
Will you have someone in the house to help you? If so, will that person need to self-isolate before they move in? You can ask your friend s and family to support you by taking your washing away and bringing it back clean, delivering cooked meals or even doing your shopping for you. You can even consider using the delivery services that so many grocery and other shops offer now.
Having a baby in 2021 is going to bring it’s own challenges so surround yourself with people that can support you. It should be an amazing time.