It’s safe to say that hospital is probably the last place anybody wants to be at the moment, unless of course, they’re having a baby! Be reassured that hospital staff, midwives and doctors are working really hard to make sure labour and birth are as safe as always during the COVID-19 pandemic and that you are protected during your stay. However, some processes have needed to change in order to ensure these things.
Even if you have Coronavirus, you will still be welcome to come and receive the care you need. The hospital team will take care of you while protecting themselves and others.
How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect how you are looked after during labour and birth and in the postnatal period?
Whether you have Coronavirus or not, the two main strategies for protecting pregnant women and their babies are:
- Reducing traffic in the hospitals so there are less people and therefore less opportunity for contact with Coronavirus;
- Managing the workforce in order to ensure the right people get the right care at the right time.
Let’s look at the what this means for you.
While you are pregnant
- You may have less visits in the hospital and more consultations over the phone or using Telehealth (which is a video-conferencing tool like Zoom)
- People who need an examination in person will be prioritised for hospital visits
- Partners, support people and small children will be encouraged to stay at home and not attend visits with you
- You may find that appointments may be changed around at the last minute as the situation changes at your hospital. If you are worried, your hospital’s birthing unit will always have someone available for you to talk to during an emergency
- Before every visit, you will be asked about whether you have any symptoms, if you’ve been in contact with anyone who has been confirmed as having Coronavirus or if you’ve travelled overseas. This is to ensure that staff can care for you in a separate area and other women are protected
- You may find that you are only allowed to have one support person with you
- You will be looked after just as you always would have been in terms of monitoring you and the baby during labour and birth
- If you do have any symptoms, staff will be wearing lots of protective equipment such as masks and goggles. It might look something like this.
After you have had the baby
- Unfortunately, the ‘one visitor at a time’ rule will still apply. In the current environment, it is probably best to wait until you get home to work out how you want to manage visitors. Inevitably, it is going to be difficult, as is all social contact at the moment.
- If you are well, and your baby is well, you will probably be encouraged to go home as soon as possible. So have a think about how you can best prepare for that beforehand. Things like having a few meals in the freezer, a list of important contacts (like the Australian Breastfeeding Association) and reading up on strategies for coping with a newborn.
- Consider linking in with your local Early Childhood Health Clinic or GP as soon as you get home.
There are sweeping changes across all areas of life and unfortunately giving birth is no exception. You can be sure your Health Care Team are working really hard to maintain high standards of care and they want you to have a positive birth experience. Being prepared is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby. We wish you all the best!