What to Expect When You’re Giving Birth during COVID-19
Whether you’re experiencing your first pregnancy or fifth, the idea of giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic most likely has you feeling some sort of way. Anxious? Nervous? Maybe even a touch terrified?
Whatever you’re feeling, it is normal.
This is uncharted territory for everybody, and we are all doing our best to safely navigate childbirth during this global pandemic. Aside from all the additional protective garb you will see your practitioners in, giving birth at South Shore Hospital is really not too different than it was before.
Let’s talk about what to expect as you prepare to give birth at South Shore Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What to Plan for Before Labor
Packing your hospital bag is a key part of late pregnancy. Now, with COVID-19 restrictions, your partner gets to get in on the fun too.
Last year, I wrote a blog with some tips for packing your hospital bag. With visitor restrictions in place, your partner should also plan to pack like he or she is about to go on a flight: One small suitcase and a bag for his or her personal items, including any necessary medications and plenty of snacks. That way, your partner doesn’t have to come and go as much during your stay.
If you are going to be induced or you have a scheduled C-section, your provider will ask you to get a COVID-19 test a few days before your procedure. South Shore Health has a convenient drive-thru testing site at South Shore Medical Center in Norwell.
What to Expect When You Arrive at South Shore Hospital
The people at the entrance will guide you and your partner on where to go, and once you make your way up to the Birthing Unit, we will be there to check you in.
Both you and your partner will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19, including a temperature check. If you are symptomatic at all during your stay at South Shore Hospital, you will be tested for COVID-19 with a simple swab of your nose or throat to test for the virus.
If you test positive, do NOT panic. We are prepared to care for you and your baby.
Women who test positive will be cared for in an appropriate, private room. Our team always wears appropriate PPE and follows strict safety protocols, including proper hygiene, to ensure that other families are not exposed.
In the postpartum period, families have a variety of options in terms of how to safely care for your baby while minimizing exposure. We will help you decide what works best for your family.
If you have questions about our policies during the pandemic, please ask your midwife or OB/GYN. As our policies change and evolve as we adjust to a new normal, our providers are the best source of up-to-date information.
The safety of every family and baby is our first priority.
What to Expect During Your Stay
Here’s where things may look a little different, if you’ve given birth at South Shore Hospital (or any hospital) before.
Nitrous Oxide and the birthing tub are unavailable
This is to minimize the risk to our providers. Our team will work with you to ensure you’re comfortable during your labor and delivery.
Only one labor support person can be with you
As of this writing, your support person can come and go from your room during your stay, although he or she should stay with you as much as possible. (You’re giving birth, after all!) Get more information on our visitor restrictions.
Doulas are allowed
We ask that you let your provider know if you plan to have a doula with you in labor, so that arrangements can be made for the doula to be tested for COVID, if you are scheduled for induction. Your doula is allowed to stay only during labor and delivery.
Everyone will wear a mask
You and your partner will be asked to wear a mask whenever any other people are in your room—including during labor. Anyone entering your room will have a mask on too. If you don’t have a mask, we will provide one for you. It’s not ideal, but it’s necessary to keep everyone safe.
No visitors are allowed on the postpartum unit
We know it’s tough to miss some of the fun of having grandparents or friends visiting during your stay, but limiting visitors is important for everyone’s safety. We offer WiFi so you can use your favorite video chat program to connect with loved ones and show off your new addition.
What to Expect As You Prepare to Head Home
One silver lining to these restrictions is that we are noticing a lot of wonderful bonding between mothers, babies, and partners in the post-partum period. Because there are fewer interruptions, there is more time to relax and work on breastfeeding before you head home.
If you and your baby are healthy and doing well, you may be able to leave after 24 hours if you’ve had a vaginal birth, or 48 hours for a cesarean.
Our primary goal is always to provide care that is safe for mothers, babies, families, and also our staff. Recommendations continue to change as the pandemic unfolds, and our protocols will as well. You can find regular updates on the South Shore Health website, but be sure to discuss your concerns as your due date approaches.
The unknown can bring out many different emotions. As parents, we are always changing and adapting to meet the needs of our families, and this is just one more example of what we do for our children.
You are strong. You are capable. And as always, we are here to help guide you through this experience!