Your doctors and nurses will be doing their best to ensure your safety as you deliver your baby. But what can you do to protect yourself from COVID as you prepare for your delivery? COVID has a lot of moms scared and anxious. It’s okay if you are too. It’s difficult to know what to prioritize as we enter these uncharted waters.
And any baby being born into this is going to have to be approached a little differently than any previous kids you might have had so far. If you’re asking yourself, what does the hospital provide for my delivery during COVID? Is it even safe to use? Am I going to look like a crazy person if I bring in everything myself? The answer is yes, you will look like a crazy person at some point in your delivery, but not because you took extra COVID precautions.
The hospital staff doesn’t want you and your baby to get COVID just as much as you do. They don’t want to be exposed to it and you don’t want to be exposed to it. They are already taking COVID precautions to keep safe. So, the question is, Are you?
How to plan for a safe birth during COVID
To do what you can during COVID to stay safe, you have to plan ahead. Imagine you’re packing for a vacation. You’re going to want to take some basic toiletries and enough clothes. You’ll need your phone and phone charger. And you’ll need to plan ahead for food. This is basic vacation planning and packing. Now let’s throw COVID into it. In most hospitals and during delivery you will be required to wear a mask. You can always throw in a few of your own, but yes plan to wear one.
Practical ideas to keep you and your newborn safe during Covid-19
So, where do I start? Some things are going to be out of your control as you deliver your baby. First things first even though you may have heard it mentioned on the news or on social media, call your hospital ahead of time to see what their policies are during this time. If you can talk to the head nurse also known as — “charge nurse”. She or he will be the RN in charge. Ask your hospital for a rundown of what it is like to deliver a baby during COVID. The more information you have, the more you can plan around that information. Delivering a baby can be stressful. And we fully recognize that this gets even more stressful and during COVID even more so.
Many hospitals are allowing moms and babies to leave earlier than they normally would, which means you might not need to pack as many clothes as you were planning. But with a limit on who is allowed you may want to use technology to connect with family and friends. Ask your hospital what their policies are around technology so you can prepare accordingly.
Most hospitals will have all the basics covered so these are just additional items you may feel comfortable bringing yourself. Here is a COVID checklist of what to bring to the hospital for your delivery.
To advocate for yourself:
Notepad — to write down questions as your doc explains things to you.
Phone numbers to your life lines — have you ever watched one of those game shows where you can call a life line? You may need to do the same before or after birth. A family member and/or friend you can call if and when you need to make a decision.
Birth Plan/List of wishes — your plan is “to have a baby”, but it’s never a bad idea to have a general plan of what you’d like to do (or not do) so everyone is on the same page.
To alleviate/minimize stress:
- Spotify — download your favorite list of songs or album
- Download — your favorite podcast
- Journal — to write down how you’re feeling
- Back up mask
- Back up hand sanitizer (if not provided)
- Loose, warm, comfortable clothing
- Change of clothes
- Phone charger
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Any medications you might be taking
- Any supplements you might be taking
- Clothing that you can leave the hospital in
- Duffle bag or some other easy carrying bag. Your nurse may give you some freebies or extras
- Your favorite pajamas or robe — if you prefer your own
- Lip balm
- Hair ties
- Adult coloring book/pages
- A pack of thank you cards
- Two — three coffee gift cards
- Writing a note to say thank you
What to expect when you go to a hospital for birth during Covid-19
Let’s go a little more in depth on some of these items. While in the hospital and depending on your circumstance’s decisions about procedure around what’s in the best interest of you and your baby may have to be made. You may need to call a family member or friend if you’re looking for another opinion outside of your partner. If you are taking any medications or supplements tell your doctor about their dosages and how often you take them. Don’t forget to list your supplements as well. Let yourdoctor have all the information they could possibly need. It will help them develop the best plan of action for treatment.
Bringing your own pillow for delivery is not a bad idea at all. Any amount of home comfort that you can bring with you will help as you deliver your baby. Hospital pillows tend to be firm and can even be covered in plastic, especially during Covid-19. Ask your hospital if they allow you to bring your own pillow. Due to Covid-19 concerns they may say no. However, if they do allow it, please have a clean pillow ready to go that you can bring with you. The u-shaped pillows you often see on airplanes can be especially helpful. You can buy one specifically for delivering your baby and take it out of the packaging only when you need it.
Another benefit to the u-shaped pillows is that they can help you sleep on you back a little more comfortably. And if you have a c section, they are great to use for breastfeeding. If you have to stay overnight during your delivery, or if you just need some rest, you’ll find that the top half of the hospital bed is raised, which makes sleeping uncomfortable. Depending on your doctor and how your delivery went, you may not be able to lower it. Prepare for this possibility by bringing along a u-shaped pillow.
Hospitals will provide basic toiletries, but, if you’re concerned about the handling of these during Covid-19, make sure to bring your own. It can also make you feel more comfortable and a little more human. Travel-sized toiletries are practical and disposable, which is a good option for Covid-19 concerns.
Getting as much rest out of your hospital stay as you can is essential. Cutting out the noise of medical devices or conversations that have nothing to do with you help you focus on only what you need. Additionally, music, your favorite podcast or even journaling can be a welcome comfort and release to minimize stress after delivery.
If you do have to stay at the hospital due to any kind of complications or observation, it’s a good idea to bring some additional source of entertainment. There will be a pretty short shelf life of entertainment value that you get from your new baby. Yep, I said it. Although a miracle and an occasion for joy, newborns don’t do a whole lot. And you just went through some stuff, so let yourself have some me time. Watch a favorite movie. Binge watch a show on Netflix. Allow yourself to stay sane and enjoy the little things that make you happy.
There are other things to keep you entertained too. Reading a book, drawing, listening to music, or whatever creative outlet that pleases you, helps you feel like yourself after so stressful a time as delivery. I’m not going to sugar coat it, delivery sucks. There are outlier stories out there about joyous Moms that hop right up and carry their newborn out the door as though nothing happened, but that’s the minority. Delivery is hard. It’s stressful. You could be facing life-long medical consequence after the fact. So, bring things that help you feel like your current circumstances aren’t your only circumstances.
Good old-fashioned pen and paper or a notepad are also helpful. For both journaling and keep track of what the doctor and nurses say. It’s a crazy time after delivery and things will slip your mind. Write them down (with context!) to help you out late. Keeping a journal is also a great way to process your thoughts and feelings. Write a note to your newborn to read before they themselves have children. Write to your partner about how you feel and what you’re looking forward to. Write yourself a note. You might even venture into writing what you need to do when you get home.
Your nurses will be your new favorite person. They are there to help you get going with recovery, teach you how to take that first walk if you had a c section. And even help get your first pee and poop — which will be both painful and eventful. Pack a few thank you card or even two to three coffee gift cards. Hospitals don’t encourage gifts so don’t be surprised if you hear no. You may need to come up with an ingenious way to express your thank you. Nurses deserve a million dollars for what they do and card or anything to show your appreciation goes a long way.
The most important thing to bring with you to your delivery is other people. Your partner, your friends, and family who can visit. With COVID there is a limit, in fact you might not be allowed to have anyone in the room with you. It’s just a fact that you will have to face. Call the hospital ahead of time to see what their policy is on visitors. The answer might be that you’re limited on how many people you can have by your side. That’s something you need to find out ahead of time and really mentally prepare for. Have those hard conversations with both yourself and others about who you want to be with you. Make it about you. You’re the one delivering the baby, so you get to decide.
The hospital is just the start of your new and wonderful journey with your little one. Expect good times and hard times. And take care of yourself! Check out our post-partum care kit to that helps speeds up your healing and recovery. Postpartum recovery is hard, but we’ve got you covered.