Let's be honest, it's not an easy time to give birth in the UK! I've found there is a lot of fear for pregnant women and new mums at the moment. Maybe it's the worry of not having the birth you'd planned for or that your maternity leave isn't what you'd expected. One thing that can really help with the worries or fear that you might feel is preparation. Knowing what to expect, what might be difference and how you can still feel in control whatever happens.
Over the past few month's I've been posting some tips on birthing & CV19, answering some of the questions I receive. So here I've collated them all together and added a couple more in for good measure.
How can I prepare at home in the lead up to the birth with the unknown impact of covid?
Talk to your partner about how you (and they) are feeling, it’s ok to be upset by this. They probably feel helpless too, so chat through your thoughts and make a plan for how you’ll help each other on the day.
Have your relaxation aids ready, MP3s, essential oils, affirmations - start using these at home the more you are used to going into deep relaxation the easier it is on the day.
Be prepared that you are likely to spend the majority of your labour at home, you really don't want to be going into hospital any earlier than necessary. so have any comfort measures you may want prepared.
Stay informed, knowledge is power and you’ll feel better knowing what the situation at your hospital is before you go in. Follow their social media channels, many trusts have a MVP (maternity voices partnership) and they will be sharing up to date information almost daily. Knowing what the situation is at your hospital so that you don’t have any nasty surprises on the day will help you to feel more confident. This is also true for postnatal care, know if you are allowed any visitors and what you can expect once you are discharged.
Have back up birth partners, if your hospital is allowing one person to be with you in labour and you have worries this might not be your husband/mother etc due to illness or them having to care for other children or work then have someone else lined up. Many doulas like myself are offering emergency doula support for mothers who would otherwise be alone in labour either virtually or circumstance depending in person.
What are the best tools of hypnobirthing that I can draw on if I find myself alone during labour?
More women are going to find that they may be birthing without their birth partner with them due to either illness or hospital restrictions. The first thing I would say is that hypnobirthing is a way of thinking/ reframing birth -it’s an approach rather than action in it’s self. So before labour even starts we can look at reframing the experiencing, firstly a birthing woman is never alone, you will have your midwife with you throughout your labour and also remember that there are thousands of women around the world birthing at the same time as you. Draw on their strength and know you are never alone.
Key tools that you learn through hypnobirthing are there to help you however your birth unfolds. As with all births practice is key, so start learning to rest listening to the relaxation MP3s and visualisations, it’s never too late. If you are without a partner you will need to be able to keep yourself calm and reduce any worry or tension you may have, which these will help with. Or if you want to feel like your partner is with you ask them to record some relaxations on your phone even just as a voice note.
Refresh yourself on the mechanics of birth (which most courses cover), understanding how your body works and what it is doing at each stage, makes is so much easier to cope. If you’re not scare, but confident and calm the sensations are more manageable.
Using positive affirmations, you can take printed off affirmations with you and stick them up in your room at the hospital. These will help you to stay focused and positive during birth.
Are there any essentials for the hospital bag when going into labour ward alone?
Oh where do I start with this yes, 100%. You will have to think and pack slightly differently if you are going in alone. Normally I recommend to mothers that they let their birth partner pack the bag for them as they will be the one that is getting things out for you when you are in labour and afterwards.
Firstly a wheel case rather than something you have to carry, remember you’ll be lifting it yourself and maybe also holding a baby too on the way home.
You can use ziplock bags or packing cube with labels on so that the midwifes can find things for you easily.
Remember you will be doing things alone so you want clothing that is super easy to put on after birth, it’s not glamours but joggers and a hoody rather than leggings or a shirt you have to do up.
Food - many hospital canteens are now closed and you will want to eat/snack in labour and may not want what is on offer at the hospital
Fairy lights, LED candles, an oil diffuser and a speaker - If you were planning on the birth centre this maybe not be an option for a number of reasons but you can still create the atmosphere in a labour ward room. With a little imagination and some props it can feel the same.
A bendy phone holder - your partner may not be able to be with you but they can virtually be in the room. Have a way of attaching your phone to something so they can video call in and chat to you while you are in labour. Alongside this also an extra long phone charging cord so that you always have battery or a power bar.
A sling/baby carrier - many hospitals now will not let you bring the carseat in to take the baby home. Someone should be there to help you with your bags, but you may feel better popping your newborn in a sling to make your way out to the car rather than caring them.
Tens machine - As you won’t have someone to massage you while you are in labour this can be really helpful to manage the sensations.
Heat pads - You won’t have anyone to run out and fill up hotter bottles so self heating pads are brilliant as you can pop them on and they stay warm for ages.
Personal items - some photos of you and your partner at places you love, anything that sparks a memory that will make you smile, keep you positive and remind you why you are doing this.
A blanket - If for any reason you need to be separated from your baby you can ask for the baby to wrapped in a blanket you have already cuddled and they will be able to smell you and feel comforted.
How can I keep positive and focused during this stressful time?
Unfortunately this is an unprecedented situation, but please know that everyone is trying their best to give you and your baby the best care possible. Limited visitors is not a punishment, it’s done to protect you and your baby and the midwives who need to stay healthy to do their job.
The best thing you can do is focus on your baby, and look forward to holding them in your arms very soon! Then you can go home and spend time snuggled up together while you rest and bond.
I have a caesarean booked, will that still go ahead? ⠀
Maternal request and medically necessary CS are still happening, however you may have some further discussions about the need/ want for this vs a vaginal birth with a midwife or obstetrician.
If you or a member of your household has symptoms of CV19 then the procedure maybe delayed until you’re passed the contagious period. You will both be tested for CV19 as standard in most hospitals as will your baby once they are born. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Depending on you and your partners health and the hospital you are booked with your partner (should) still be able to be in theatre with you. Please remember things are constantly changing and always speak to your caregivers first. Sadly you will only get a couple of hours together after the birth though, as they will not be able to accompany you onto the postnatal ward at this time. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
See my earlier post on preparing for birth at this time for some tips & considerations for your hospital bag to make it as smooth as possible when you are alone.
Can my partner be with me in labour? ⠀
‘Most’ trusts are still allowing one birth partner to accompany a woman in active labour. You will have to attend antenatal appointments alone and when you first arrive at hospital you will likely have to visit triage alone. Once the midwives are confident you’re in active labour you will be shown to your delivery room and your birth partner can come to you there. ⠀
Please be aware partners can’t come and go, there is no swapping and they maybe be given a wrist band. Because of this ensure you pack everything you’ll need including food. A birth partner should also have their bag with bits in for them too. ⠀
Once your baby has been born you will either be discharged if everything is well or transferred to a postnatal ward. Your partner will not be able to come to the ward with you.⠀
If you are required to go into theatre to deliver your baby, your partner maybe asked to stay in the delivery suite (this is on a case by case basis) ⠀
I know these time are hard, but this is for the safety of all mums and babies and the midwives who need to continue supporting women.
Can a friend look after older children when I’m in labour if grandparents are isolating? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When it come to older siblings this is a personal choice for each family. The government guidelines state that ‘essential care is allowed’ looking after children would be included in this. Some families have chosen to isolate themselves and then the person that will care for the children when you go into labour will also do this for at least 7 days. However when labour will start is unpredictable, so do bear in mind this might mean you and your friends family all isolating for a month. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Some women have decided to leave children with their partner and laboured at the hospital without them. If you are going this route please know you’re not alone. Many doulas are offering virtual support and you can also FaceTime your partner in, some hospitals have purchased iPads to help with this. The midwives are also amazing and will not leave you alone when in labour. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Your children or partner will not be able to visit you in hospital after the baby has been born, so do ensure you prepare them that mummy might be away for potentially a couple of days depending on the age of your older kids. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This is a great question to use BRAINS for weighing up the benefits and risks of each option and make the choice you feel most comfortable with.
I'll add and update this post as things change, but I hope it's helped with some answers to help you feel more prepared for birth during this time. If you have any other questions please do contact me directly and my hypnobirthing courses now include up to date information on how corona maybe impact your birth choices at your chosen hospital.