The world seems a whole lot different than it did two weeks ago!
I had it all figured out, childbirth classes, my mother flying in from Nepal, my sister-in-law’s visit to prep for baby essentials, my mother-in-law’s support postpartum. And, I would still be holding open houses at least until I was three weeks from my due date. Man! I really want to sell that house before the baby comes. But none of that is going to happen.
It all started at the end of December 2019, with cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China which quickly became a global health issue; fast forward to end of March 2020, Covid-19 has now spread to 166 countries with China and Italy being the hardest hit. As of today the United States alone has 64,765 confirmed cases with 910 deaths and 90 confirmed cases and rising in the state of Hawaii that we call home. Healthcare systems all around the world are scrambling to make things work with a massive shortage of PPE equipment and medical devices such as ventilators to keep people alive. We are all fighting an unseen enemy that has invaded our planet, some of us are in the frontlines trying to save lives, and others are staying in to give the ones that are fighting a better chance.
And at home, I am fighting my own battle. I am 32 weeks pregnant with gestational diabetes. I didn’t think much of coronavirus in January, I thought eh, it will sort itself out. I knew exactly how I want my next few months to be at work, at home and prepping for the baby. Come February, a slight worry started creeping in with all the new developments around the globe but my plans are intact and we are still expecting life to go on as usual.
March! Oh boy. Needn’t say much. I am devastated. Everything that I was counting on for my childbirth is out of the picture, including our income. According to NY Times, yesterday two leading hospitals in NYC, Mt. Sinai and New York- Presbyterian, are barring partners, spouses and doulas from the delivery room leaving expectant mothers to labor alone in anxiety and fear. I am dizzy just thinking about it. As I type my next few words, I feel the need to take deep breaths and gather my thoughts.
Even though things aren’t as bad on Oahu at this time, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is rising and we are under lockdown with the exception of essential businesses. We don’t know how the circumstances are going to transpire in the next few weeks no matter where we live. We can only hope that things get better and do what we can to help those who are fighting this virus first-hand. What I know is that I am not alone in this, my thought goes out to all the pregnant sisters around the world who are dealing with the same uncertainties and questions as I am. Will my newborn be safe? How will coronavirus affect my childbirth? Will I get the help and support I need during labor? Can I trust my healthcare providers to be uninfected by coronavirus, or could they be asymptomatic? We don’t hear specifics about how the health care facilities are planning to help women during childbirth, is it business as usual? Or there are any precautions being taken to keep Covid-19 at bay from the labor departments?
These are daunting questions, I hope that all expectant mothers find the strength and courage to deal with this unusually dire situation that we are facing. Childbirth is one of the toughest and most beautiful experiences in a woman’s life, it is a sacred primal ritual that your body performs to bring new life that should be had in an environment of calm and confidence. No woman wants to give birth in an environment of fear and anxiety so it is necessary especially at a time like this to think about a few things that might help the expectant mother relax.
Things that help you prepare, remember knowledge will give you power and confidence. If you haven’t already done this, get a book on childbirth and start reading it now. What has helped me throughout my pregnancy is reading “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin. It was recommended by my friend April, who just had her first baby five months ago. This book has provided me with the knowledge and mental strength that I otherwise wouldn’t have and I thank Ina May and April for that gift. Although every woman labors differently, it is important to know the essentials of childbirth, knowing the stages of labor, how to breathe and how to handle pain and fear because it will help you find calm when you need it the most.
I have noticed that the more I prep myself the more relaxed I feel, so pack your hospital bag ahead of time, read a book on basic baby care, my sister in law recommends “Moms on Call” (0-6 months) by Jennifer Walker Hunter. She says it was her bible for all three of her kids, eat healthy and exercise, you are gonna need your strength, meditate on how you want your childbirth experience to be. Think about things that you can take into delivery room that may comfort you, maybe a playlist, a favorite picture, a quote that you find strength in, the childbirth book you have been reading and not to mention the gifts of technology like iPads, iPhones to face-time with your loved ones. Nothing can replace your spouse, mother or doula, but people who can adapt with the changing world are the ones that survive. Get the baby basics ready, you can find everything online on Amazon, Target, etc. And talk to your healthcare provider about what measures are being taken towards inpatient delivery services at your chosen facility.
Don’t forget, the most important thing right now is social distancing, as much as we miss our friends and family we are staying at home, just me and my husband doing our part to keep this virus from spreading.
Talking about the last stage of labor, the first six weeks after childbirth. If you are anxious like me, prepare a list of new things that you and your partner will have to accommodate into your life as new parents. I know the situation at the grocery stores aren’t as normal and things are a bit harder to get these days but it would help to have a meal plan or prep one to two weeks worth of meals while you still can and freeze them so you don’t have to worry about cooking everyday or going out to get food from grocery stores and restaurants after the baby arrives, new moms need rest and time to nurse and take care of the newborn. And you definitely don’t want to increase the risk of exposure to Covid-19 under any circumstances. Most cooked foods like soups, stews, curries, mashed vegetables and grains will keep for two to three months in the freezer.
These are my thoughts on how I can prepare for childbirth and after while dealing with a pandemic. Most of our daily lives have changed so drastically, we have no control over it but there are still some things we can do to prepare mentally and physically for the upcoming challenge that lies ahead of us as an expectant mother. While we are dealing with our own issues let’s not forget about thousands of pregnant women around the world who don’t have the means to make ends meet right now, my heart goes out to them, I can only hope and pray that every pregnant woman and new mothers get the care and support they deserve. To all my pregnant sisters, let’s be strong, vigilant and stay calm. This too shall pass!