In our coronavirus world, managing your health has taken on a new level of stress. We know from many members of the Stix community that this stress is particularly complicated if you are pregnant. Hospitals have enacted strict safety measures and fluid changes in public health policies make planning for the future extremely hard. Advocating for yourself and your baby while giving birth in a hospital is more complicated, but completely possible. Here is some insight on how to prepare for your stay and speak up for your best interests.
Hospitals have increased scheduling for c-sections and labor inductions in order to accommodate births in a more predictable way. A recent report from Listening to Mothers found that in the pre-coronavirus world, women felt pushed by their medical professionals to have induced labor (15%) and c-sections (13%). Be aware that the pressure to induce labor or to have a c-section may be amplified during coronavirus. Still, scheduling a C-section could be a beneficial option for you if you are feeling stressed about your delivery and would prefer to have it planned out. Be sure to communicate openly with your doctor about what you want your birth plan to be!
Early discharges from hospitals
Hospitals are also working to discharge new parents early. This means that there is less time in the hospital to get cared for by medical professions and there is less time to learn about caring for your baby. While your home may feel safer than the hospital, your health is a priority and you deserve to be taken care of! Be transparent about your needs, fears, and concerns with your medical team. The postpartum period can be extremely difficult even without a global pandemic. When you get home, make sure to communicate openly with your family and loved ones about ways to support you postpartum.
Combatting health inequities
The new policies and procedures of giving birth during COVID-19 may exacerbate the already well-documented inequities in maternal mortality rates faced by Black mothers. It is imperative that BIPOC mothers especially feel equipped with tools and resources to advocate for themselves during childbirth in the age of coronavirus. Studies have shown that doulas offer critical support to BIPOC women during childbirth and can play a key role in closing racial disparities in birth outcomes. While doulas may not be allowed in the room due to limitations on support personnel, there are doula telehealth alternatives that may still provide support and encouragement during childbirth. Although it may look different than normal, it is still an available option! Check out dona.org, cappa.net, getboober.com for doula resources.
Overall, feeling prepared will help you to advocate for yourself during these extra-stressful times. Here are some free virtual childbirth classes Pampers, TMC Health Care, and EIRMC. Take a deep breath! You got this.