First and foremost, congratulations on your pregnancy – whilst it may feel daunting being pregnant at such an uncertain time, bringing a baby into this world is the biggest blessing – Alhamdulillah!
At MMM, we want to support you to have as positive an experience as possible. So to help prepare you for the journey ahead, we’ve put together our thoughts on what to consider along with some tips which may help make this journey more smooth for you, especially if you are giving birth in a hospital or birthing centre.
Please note that the guidelines1 are regularly being updated and any information specific to your care will be communicated to you by your local maternity team.
What impact will COVID-19 have on my care during pregnancy?
- Fewer face to face appointments may mean that you are less likely to feel that personal connection and care with your maternity team.
- Having a list of questions written down for when you see a professional face to face may help to ensure you don’t forget things in the moment.
- Not feeling pressured to rush your appointment, whilst easier said than done, may help you to feel like your needs are addressed.
- Remember, the medical teams are here to look after you and would never want to compromise your care so if you’re worried about something, don’t hesitate to ask.
- Having to attend appointments and scans alone can make you feel anxious especially if you’re a first time mama.
- Using technology where possible to include your other half (Facetime, Zoom call or even just have them on the other end of the phone) may help them to be a part of experience.
What about labour and my hospital stay?
- You may only be allowed one birth partner with you for the active part of labour (when you are more than 4cm dilated).
- Staying at home for as long as you can when labour starts will increase the chance that you will be in active labour when you get to the hospital and your birth partner can come in with you as soon as you are seen. Usually having at least 3 contractions in 10 minutes, each lasting about a minute, is a sign of active labour2.
- You will need to go into the hospital alone first for the team to check you are in active labour. It is best to get dropped off at the entrance so you have less walking to do if those contractions are coming strong and fast.
- If you are being induced, you may end up spending some time alone in hospital at the beginning of labour so stock up on snacks and home comforts. Do whatever you need to make the environment feel safe and cosy, this will encourage labour to progress so that your birth partner can join you swiftly.
Related: The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist
- You may have to stay alone in hospital after delivery. This is probably one of the most scary things to read, especially for a first time mama. Hopefully, this won’t be the case for much longer with the vaccine being rolled out soon, but stay strong mama! You can do this!
- In most areas, hospitals are trying to get you home faster. For example, if you have a normal delivery with no complications, you may well be home on the same day.
- Try not to worry too much about this beforehand. Focusing your energy and attention on staying calm will help labour to progress and encourage a swift and safe delivery.
- Remember you won’t be alone; midwives will be there 24/7 to help when needed and they have many years of experience with newborns.
- Visitors may not be allowed to come to hospital to see the baby
- This might be a blessing in disguise; those first few hours and days are challenging for new mamas having just gone through birth, putting yourself together and feeling ready to face visitors can be a pain!
- Use the time you have in hospital to focus on the baby and do lots of skin to skin and rest. For mamas with other kids, it’ll be non-stop once you’re back home so cherish these moments.
Coming home with the new baby and support after delivery
- You may have to attend all appointments alone. Your body will be in recovery mode and ideally you should be making the most of the time to rest, not lifting heavy items (think car seat + baby combo).
- Remember your posture when lifting and bend your knees if you’re taking a car seat with you to an appointment.
- Using a baby carrier or sling may be handy as it allows your hands to be free and babies are usually well settled in these in the first few days and weeks as they are close to their mama’s heartbeat.
- Should the baby’s grandparents be allowed to hold him/her? According to current government guidance (accurate at the time of writing)3 , you are allowed to form a support bubble with one other household if you have a child under one.
- Being in a support bubble eliminates social distancing requirements between the two households. The idea behind this is to allow for new mums to have support with childcare (something which wasn’t allowed in the first lockdown).
- However, as you can only form a support bubble with one other household this may create conflict if there are two sets of grandparents around locally.
MMM tip: risk assess the situation and do what you need to for your mental health. Postnatal depression and anxiety is a real thing and having support around will really help
- Fewer face to face opportunities available than before.
- Ask for help if you need it. Your midwives and health visitors are only a phone call away and they really do understand what a challenging time it is. Whilst physical support may seem as though it is not present, if you are in need, they will come and see you.
- Find out from your midwife/health visitor the best number to call whether it be for your mental health, breastfeeding, baby support or anything you may need. More importantly, don’t be afraid to use the number if you need to – there is nothing too big or too small and there are no stupid questions!
- Be persistent – if you don’t feel heard or supported, keep asking for help.
- One tip from a health visitor regarding baby weight is that you can use a home scale to keep an eye on the baby’s weight. Simply step on yourself and record the weight and then step on it with the baby (stripped down without their nappy) and record the new weight – the difference should give you the baby’s weight. Use the same scale each time and repeat three times and take an average if the numbers are slightly different each time.
- Less visitors and family around which depending on the type of person you are, this might be a good thing for you.
- Having fewer visitors really allows you the time to bond with and focus on your new baby. Establishing breastfeeding is often tricky and so having time to do this without the pressure of visitors may well work in your favour.
- If your delivery was complicated and you’re not feeling your best, having the time to rest without the expectation to see people may also be something that really appeals to you.
- Think outside of the box. In 2020, we’ve seen it all from Zoom baby introductions to drive-by sip and sees. Own it mama – you deserve to!
- Fewer baby classes running. This is a big one which is unfortunately the way of the world at the moment. Some baby classes are now up and running and have been deemed COVID-19 safe so look around and you might be surprised. At MMM, we’re aware of Baby Sensory, Hartbeeps and Buggy Fit all running local to us.
- Ultimately, remember all your baby needs is you. For the first months of their life, simply looking at your face provides them with all the stimulation they need.
- If you are cautious about attending a baby class, go for a walk with a mummy friend to get some company or even try recreating your own baby class at home.
- Check out the option of online baby classes if you think this will work for you.
So there you have it mamas, our ultimate guide to being pregnant in a pandemic. We hope these tips and hints will make your journey easier. You’ve got this!
لا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفسًا إِلّا وُسعَها
‘Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear’
Surah Baqara 2:286
If you’ve had a baby during the pandemic what have your experiences been? Do you have any tips to offer? Let us know in the comments below.