Let’s face it, the world as we know it is a scary place right now. We’re told to stay home with a stockpile of food and toilet paper, wear masks and stay away from loved ones or else we may get ourselves or someone we love very, very sick. For many, the stay at home order is inconvenient, for a lot, it’s devastating for their financial well being, and for pregnant mothers, it’s all that plus terrifying, upsetting, and downright unfair.
For mothers nearing their due date, I want to personally say my heart breaks for you. Giving birth is a life changing experience that is a bit scary even in “normal” times. Throwing a pandemic in the mix certainly adds unneeded stress, anxiety and fear to what should be an exciting and joyful time. I know this isn’t what you planned, but please know so many people are rooting for you and think you’re very, very brave.
In an effort to ease the worry of expectant mothers, I caught up with my friend Jessica, a BSN, RN working in the OB, Postpartum unit at a South Florida hospital through these unprecedented times. During our chat, I asked her some questions that many expectant mothers have concerns about. It’s important to note that these answers stand true for the hospital she works at, but are a good reference overall. Since I personally gave birth during a different time, I polled a few friends that are currently pregnant, and most of these questions came directly from them.
1. Are the birthing person or support person required to BYOM (Bring your own mask?) Will the mother be required to wear a mask at all times, even during labor?
Currently, literally everyone is wearing a mask 24/7. I can only speak for our hospital, but we currently have enough PPE to provide to the mom and support person. We all know it is very hard to breathe during labor, let alone with a mask on so all we can do is recommend it. Do all moms continue to wear the mask? No, but that is her choice to refuse our recommendations. You have the right to refuse any medical treatment at any time.
2. What are the main differences in the L&D ward now vs. prior to Covid
Our OB unit is great because the entire floor (L&D, Postpartum, and NICU) is locked and not really connected to the rest of the hospital. Its always been very secure and strict with allowing visitors even before Covid. Currently, we (and Pediatrics) allow only 1 visitor, whereas the rest of the hospital allows none. Besides more PPE and only 1 visitor, our nurses still provide the same compassion and care to our patients.
3. Are new moms getting tested for Covid-19? If so, is it only if they’re showing symptoms?
We are screening both moms and fathers/support person. No one is tested unless they show symptoms.
4. Some expectant mothers have heard rumors that due to Covid 19, mothers will be discharged from the hospital just hours after delivery. Do you know if there is any truth behind this?
There is no truth to that at my hospital and I have not heard that in others. I think that is completely unrealistic and utterly unsafe. Most mothers havent even recovered enough to even get out of bed, let alone go home and take care of herself and her newborn.
That is the exact reason for the postpartum unit. To continue to take care of a mother and her baby. Most complications can happen 24-48 hours later. I do not foresee a discharge that quickly ever happening.
5. Do you feel that first time moms are at any disadvantage receiving some of the support new mothers usually receive at the hospital? For example, visits with lactation support?
We are still allowing lactation specialists to visit mothers. They are a part of our staff, and we believe breastfeeding is so important, so they are still seeing families.
I do think its unfair to the mothers who want/need a doula. I personally didnt use one during my birth, but I know the unbelievable support they provide for some mothers, that no one else can provide. So currently, our policy is only 1 support person allowed. Which usually is the father.
What is your message as a L&D nurse to birthing persons during this time?
We always want and – more importantly- need a mom to be flexible with her birth plan. We will respect every decision a mother makes and will educate as much as we can to help her make an informed decision. Things change hourly and even by the minute, things that are out of our control. Just be open and flexible. We will try our best to still make it the best experience possible. Come with the idea in your head of a safe delivery and happy healthy mom & baby.
Also, since there is only the dad allowed in the delivery room, make sure to give another nurse your phone/camera to take pictures! We love capturing the beautiful miracle and even more so now with no help from family or photographers.
The takeaway here, is your labor and delivery nurses will be there to support you through the most monumental moment of your life, just as they always would. They may have a little more PPE on, but know that they are smiling underneath that mask and ready to help you become a mom, or a mom again!
You got this mama!