Not trying to brag but I’ve recently become a part of an exclusive club. It’s women-only, membership is free, and we have members dating all the way back to 1918.
That’s right, I’m talking about the Pandemic Pregnancy Club.
Whether you just saw those two pink lines or have an overdue baby chilling directly on top of your bladder, here are 6 tips for giving birth in this mess we call 2020.
(1) Do: Pack a fan.
Pushing a baby out of your private parts isn’t great. Pushing a baby out of your private parts while wearing a sweat-filled mask is less great. My only advice to make this scenario somewhat bearable is to bring a handheld fan. My husband knew I didn’t need him to hold my hand or lead me in any breathing techniques. He just cranked our $15 Amazon fan up to full blast and aimed it directly at my masked, screaming face.
(2) Don’t: Pack a bunch of masks.
I originally thought that if I had to labor in a face covering, I was going to at least wear a cute (and expensive) mask from Athleta. Well, you guessed it — not one person saw my cute mask. The second I hobbled into the hospital lobby I was handed an unfashionable disposable mask, and this is what I wore for the duration of our three-day stay.
(3) Give yourself extra Covid time.
Pre-Covid you could just look at a hospital/birthing center website to find information on parking, check-in, etc. But due to safety measures constantly changing, many of these sites aren’t updated with the latest procedures. Instead, I would ask your OB/GYN about hospital protocols a few weeks before your due date and then do your own drive-by to scope out any details they may have missed.
Here’s what we knew about our hospital arrival procedures:
- Valet service is suspended so everyone needs to park in the garage and enter through the front.
- All patients/visitors get a temperature check and screening questionnaire before entry.
Here’s what we didn’t know:
- There’s an entirely separate entrance for Labor and Delivery.
With contractions coming every three minutes, you can image my reaction when I was told that I had to go back outside and check-in all over again. The point is, give yourself plenty of time. No one wants to give birth in the temperature screening line.
(4) See the silver lining in the ‘no visitor’ rule.
Our hospital allowed one support person and no other visitors for our entire stay. At first we were bummed, but that feeling quickly faded. Guys, listen to me. The ‘no visitor’ rule is amazing.
Besides being able to chill with my milk bags out, not having visitors gave us constant one-on-one time with our care team. We were able to ask questions, get demos (swaddling is harder than it looks), and soak up as many tips and tricks as possible from women who care for newborns every single day.
(5) Bring all the snacks.
Since you won’t have visitors to bring you treats, pack all the snacks you can fit in your bag. This is especially important if your support person isn’t permitted to leave the hospital and return on the same day.
While you’re at it, I suggest bringing your own towel, pillow, shampoo, and some flip flops for the shower. I’d also pack a travel-sized hand sanitizer to keep next to your bed since SURPRISE! You might not be able to walk after delivery.
(6) Ask when you can be discharged. Then ask again.
All new parents are different, but we were ready to get home as soon as possible. Besides being uneasy about living inside a hospital during a pandemic, it was tough constantly masking-up anytime someone entered the room. I’m all for keeping our healthcare workers safe, but being woken up every 12 minutes to frantically grope around in the dark for my mask made me excited to head home.
We learned that the key to getting discharged early is to tell your nurse when you hope to leave. Then when there’s a shift change, tell the next nurse. And then the next. Your care team will be your advocates and do what they can to get you back home.
No one planned to be in the Pregnancy Pandemic Club.
But I like to think that all of us PPC members will always have a special bond of knowing what it’s like to grow a human while the world is on fire. Plus, we’ll all be able to constantly remind our kids that we had to wear a damn mask during labor. YOU’RE WELCOME JOANIE.