My Experience Giving Birth During the COVID-19 Pandemic
So many of you asked me about my experience of delivering Hugo in the middle of the COVID -19 pandemic. I’ve shared my personal experience below, which will hopefully answer some questions that other expecting moms might have during this period. Be sure and let me know if there is anything additional you’d like to know after reading.
Leading up to my delivery, I’ve been attending regular appointments with my doctors, however the Thursday before I went into labor, I decided to cancel my appointment. The news was starting to get more intense and I didn’t feel comfortable about going into the clinic with all the information. If you have something similar happen to you, I’d highly recommend talking to your doctor. My OB wasn’t happy with my decision, but I felt that I needed to do what I felt was best for me at the time.
On the night of delivery, my best friend came over to our apartment to watch Sebastian. We took an Uber to the hospital and once we arrived, I immediately noticed it was eerily quiet all over the hospital. Very few people coming in and out, walking the hallways, etc. Once we walked into the hospital, they handed us both a mask and immediately started asking us questions; have you been outside the country in the last two weeks?, are you experiencing a temperature?, have you been coughing?, etc. We were asked these questions by three separate hospital employees before even getting into the triage waiting area.
From here, we interfaced with one other person before getting into the triage room. In triage, I had two nurses attending me. This experience was similar to the one I had with Sebastian. Both nurses were wearing masks and gloves while treating me. They were very attentive and worked quickly to get us over to the delivery room, where things then seemed to normalize. The only difference from delivery with Sebastian was just how quiet everything was in the hospital. I walked in at 11pm, my nurse said I was her first delivery of her shift and she started at 7pm. That was crazy.
During delivery, I had the normal amount of people in my room. Everyone was really diligent about washing their hands once they walked into the room (this however is the normal hospital protocol) and put on gloves if they were planning on touching me and the baby.
After Hugo’s arrival, we went to our room. This was a semi-private(shared) room, but with the hospital being so quiet, we didn’t have another patient in the room. From here, the protocol was similar with Sebastian. Every 12 hours we had a new nurse attending us, our Pediatrician, Lactation Nurse and Vital Nurse also came by our room. Throughout my stay, we had 20+ people come in and out of our room from the time we arrived to the time we left. Typically these people come in groups, but they were limiting the number of people to 2 people in the room at a time with me and the baby.
Hugo spent the majority of the time with me in my room, opposed to time in the nursery. They do take the baby in and out of your room for shots and other procedures that need to take place during your stay. Our nurse and Pediatrician always took Hugo, so that was reassuring. The morning we checked out, they were ready for us to go by 9am. If you want to try to leave early, make sure you communicate this with your nurse. There is a checklist of things that need to be completed prior to leaving. We took care of most the night before.
While I was in the hospital, I took the time to “escape” the madness. I felt safe and isolated with baby Hugo. Knowing that if anything were to happen, we were both in the best place to be cared for during this scary time. My personal recommendations, limit news and social media. I watched Love is Blind and the Batman movies to help keep my mind off things. I started to watch true crime movies, but that was not good for my mindset. With all the hormonal changes and global crisis, I needed something that wouldn’t take a huge toll on my mental state.
Once at home
When we came home, the news started pouring in about the COVID-19 and possibly New York going under shelter-in-place. Meanwhile, we’re trying to embrace bringing home Huge, introducing him to his new nursery, the animals and most importantly, Sebastian. We got through these moments, but the minute I went into the kitchen, I didn’t see shelves full of food, milk and other necessities, I started to break down. The anxiety set in. The tears started to swell. Matt just returned from the store with four bags of groceries and that’s when I fell apart. He made his way back out and found what was left on the shelves at our local grocery story. When he returned home with tons of food, my nerves settled down.
We’re all experiencing this pandemic together. There’s no certainty and none of us have control of what’s going to happen next, but we do have control of how full our kitchen is with food and other necessities. I think in some way it puts our minds at ease to have control of something in these types of situations. This is the time that I really let my emotions get the most of me and those around me. From this, if you’re going into labor, perhaps go grocery shopping before going to the hospital. When you bring home a newborn, naturally as a mother, you go into survival mode. A few other things I’d order from Amazon or pick up at the store are pads, diapers, wipes and formula. Check out this article, it states “Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics say that parents should keep 2-4 weeks of formula on hand at any given time.” We have about the same for wipes and diapers. You can also check out other online stores like Coterie, Hello Bello, and Bambo Nature for diapers, wipes and other baby necessities. If things are out of stock, try looking at places other than Amazon and Walmart.com, you might discover some amazing companies.
Since being home, we’ve self quarantined. Better safe than sorry, especially in New York City. We’re always in constant contact with others.
Here’s a short list of all the questions you all had regarding COVID-19 and delivery
How did they handle your routine appts during all of this?
I was on the last few visits to my OB while the pandemic was starting to spread in the states. At the time, there were no other changes.
Were you nervous about nurses/doctors who were caring for multiple patients?
Of course, but everyone was were all wearing protective gloves with minimal contact throughout my entire labor and visit. According to ACOG, “If a pregnant woman has COVID-19 at the time of birth, they will be isolated from other patients, and providers who care for them will be wearing masks.”
Did the hospital take any additional precautions?
As you step foot inside the hospital, they immediately hand you a mask and start asking you questions related to the COVID-19. Most hospitals are postponing elective surgeries, so this also reduces patient intake. Same with limiting visitors, they limited the number of people per patient and no person under 18 years of age could visit. All of these precautions will help limit the number of people to people contact within the hospital. Totally ok with everything.
Were you nervous about the baby getting the virus after he was born?
100%. That was my biggest fear. Since the virus is so new, there are so many unknowns. I planned on leaving the next day, but Hugo had elevated levels for jaundice, so we couldn’t leave till his bilirubin lowered in his blood. An extra day that’s it.
Were you able to have visitors after the birth?
Yes, two visitors, but I didn’t want visitors coming into the hospital having contact with me or Hugo. Less contact the better. Matt was the only person. He was there the first night and the morning I left the hospital. Otherwise, he was at home with Sebastian.
Did doctors recommend anything to stay safe from COVID post delivery/discharge?
Self quarantine. No visitors. Washing hands. Limiting Sebastian touching the baby, especially in the face.
Did they have any issues with Matt being in the delivery room with you?
Did you get released early?
We didn’t, but at the 24hr mark, they were really trying to get us ready so we could leave early. With Sebastian, they were really strict with the 48 hours and this time around, we had everything done by 10am. The only reason we didn’t get released early was due to Hugo having newborn jaundice.
My Pediatrician said they’re really trying hard to get everyone in and out of the hospital as quickly as possible.
Any special recommendation to take or not to take to the hospital?
Bring lots of snacks! I couldn’t leave the floor, because they don’t want people coming in and out of the Labor and Delivery area for the health of the patients. I’d recommend bringing dried fruit, snack bars and my personal favorite, Gatorade (to stay hydrated).
I’d also bring an iPad and charger, just in case you’re alone for a few hours. Lots of downtime with limited visitors.
I’m having a baby in two weeks and I’m freaking out.
I can totally understand. I think we’re all freaking out in one way or another. One thing I will say, try and limit the news and social media. Stress does a lot of harm to our bodies, especially for new moms. When I spoke to the lactation consultant, the last thing she said to me was, “Try and not stress too much, it can alter the production of your milk supplies.”
Control what you can control. Drink lots of water, take care of yourself and your well-being. That is the absolute best thing you can do right now for you and your baby. Once you bring that baby home, stay in bed and just enjoy every second with your little one. A pro of COVID-19, is that so many moms have more time to spend with their children. It’s a blessing in disguise.
Did they say anything about if it can be transmitted through breast milk?
According to this article, “So far there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through breast milk, the CDC notes. Forms of antibodies that protect against coronaviruses have been found in breast milk samples though, which is good news. That means mothers’ bodies are making antibodies and passing those (but not the virus) on to their infants.
There have been a few cases in China where the mother had COVID and it DID NOT get passed to their baby. Please read more about this here.
Did you feel like you were still a priority at the hospital?
100%! They were as professional as they were when I was with Sebastian. Labor and Delivery doctors and nurses are truly special humans. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. The entire staff wake up everyday, risk contracting the virus by coming into the hospital to take care of me and my unborn child. Be extremely kind and grateful when in the hospital to these individuals, they do a lot for us.
Did it seem tense in the hospital?
The staff didn’t seem tense, the visitors were more cautious and alert. People were not sharing elevators and staying a safe distance.
Did you have to share your hospital room or did you pay for a private room due to COVID?
When I walked in, the hospital was really quiet, so I made the decision to have a shared room, knowing we’d likely not have someone else in the room. When we arrived, Hugo was the 2nd baby in the nursery. When we left, I still only saw a handful of moms and newborns.
Many hospitals have the option to upgrade to private rooms. Once you arrive, have your visitor ask about the private room availability. They fill up fast due to COVID. Going out on a limb here, but I think the hospital is doing their best not to have more than one patient per room. This is another reason elective surgeries are being postponed at this time. This also helps limit the amount of patients in hospital beds and rooms.
Tips on sharing the excitement and celebration with friends and family when you can’t see them?
Facetime! When I was at the hospital, I called so many people when Hugo was awake. They loved seeing him and hearing about how we were doing. It was a safe way to share the experience with my friends and family. I’ve also being sending them daily updates. Highly recommend starting group texts or even a photo album to share with family.
Several of you asked about vaccine regarding the COVID-19, please take time and learn where we’re at in the process of finding a vaccine for the virus. CLICK HERE.
I also referenced several of articles from Motherly, like this article. Highly recommend reading more on their website. Lots of valuable information for parents.
Thank you for following along everyone. Stay safe out there.