Birthing a Baby During a Pandemic

Birthing a Baby During a Pandemic

What a year 2020 has been so far! A year full of uncertainty, missing of loved ones, changes in routines and the list goes on. It sure is a year like no other with ongoing challenges and hurdles to overcome, and here at Bubnest we couldn't help but wonder what it all looks and feels like for expecting Mums. Pregnancy and Birthing a baby has so many unknowns of its own, however when you add in a Pandemic and a large amount of changed practices and restrictions, it adds another layer to those already existing uncertainties. 
So we thought we would take this opportunity to reach out to one of our favourite Midwives, the beautiful Lauren from @onemamamidwife, to share some behind the scenes of what Birthing Suites and Maternity Wards look and feel like during these unprecedented times. 

Lauren, @onemamamidwife, is a Registered Midwife currently working in NSW. She is also a loving Wife, devoted Mother to 3 little ones, and has a strong desire to educate, inspire and empower women. Her instagram feed has an abundance of valuable knowledge and resources and we just love the way that she is so involved and an active member of the community.

Lauren kindly joined us in our Facebook Group for a Live chat last month, and we wanted to create this blog to share Laurens knowledge and experience with the wider community. So we hope you enjoy this recap and that if you are expecting a baby any time soon, we hope it brings you some clarity and reassurance.

Hi Lauren, could you explain your role as a Midwife? 
As a Midwife our main role and priority is to support Women and empower Women to have the birth, and be educated about the birth they want to have. Although everyone knows birth plans don't always go to plan, it's nice to have a plan and a guide so that we can support you as best as we can. As a midwife we try and stay with the Birthing Mother the whole time and just support and empower them to make the decisions they want.

Could you please explain to us what restrictions are currently in place? 
With Covid there are obviously a few things that have changed. We have been meeting a lot of Women with anxiety around all the differences that are happening - so I just want to jump in and say that although there are some strict restrictions around Covid and visitors, not to focus on the negatives. Restrictions do differ from State to State in Australia - currently in NSW it's one support person during labour, and that support person can stay with the Birthing Mother overnight and is still able to be there to support during the post natal period. Here in NSW we are allowing Women to use water during labour, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. We all know using water during labour is a really important resource so hopefully that shouldn't change. We are also allowing the use of gas as a lot of gas systems have a little viral filter on them anyway. 
Face Masks are being worn throughout maternity wards and birthing suites, however if you are in your room with your support person you will not be required to wear a mask. You also will not be required to wear a mask when physically giving birth and in labour - everyone else in the room will have to, but it would be very very difficult to push effectively and breathe when wearing a face mask. So no need to worry about that! 
In regards to Post Natal home visits, unfortunately most Midwifery practices are generally not doing home visits, unless it is urgent. They are however inviting Women back in to the clinics to still carry out those check ups and some are also offering over the phone services to keep Mothers and babies as safe and healthy as possible. 

What are the biggest concerns expecting Mothers have at the moment? 
The biggest restriction, and biggest worry, for most Women is that they aren't able to have their older children come and visit. So that's the biggest challenge for us, so we are seeing a lot of Mothers wanting to leave early to get home to their older children. 
As a Midwife we have been encouraging Mothers to facetime their older children and try and include them as much as possible using technology. This helps alot with including your older children in the new babies life which in turn makes the transition into home life much easier on everyone. 

Have you noticed any positives come from these restrictions? 
Yes, so that concern aside, surprisingly enough, most Women have said that they were more worried about the restrictions and uncertainty of it all, than what they actually should have been. So alot of Women have said they actually enjoyed not having visitors at the hospital, and that they were able to spend this time with the brand new baby - just the three of them. So alot of Mums, and Dads, have really enjoyed this one on one time which is beautiful to see. 
Another positive thing about the restrictions is that we have had a really really good increase in Breastfeeding rates. So when Mums have visitors they tend to get a little nervous at the start of breastfeeding, which is really understandable. So yeah, alot of breastfeeding increases have been seen which is one positive to take out of it. Another positive is you have us Midwives all to yourself! So we are working alot harder, to be honest, as we are putting 110% of our energy in to making sure you feel supported and comfortable. We have actually been spending alot of time sitting and chatting with Mums because they don't have visitors and we know that's difficult and it's not always ideal. 
So my advice is to really use the time in hospital to chat with the Midwives and ask every single one their different opinion on different topics and gather all the information you can from everybody. 

Do you have any recommendations on resources parents can access about birth or postpartum?
I find that books can be a little bit outdated and some of them not quite what we would recommend, but the Australian Breastfeeding Association has 1000's of fact sheets that are really really interesting and everything to do with breastfeeding. If you want to look at recent research than the website Evidence Based Birth has a lot of really interesting pull aparts of articles. Also there is a website called The Tommy's Midwives, which has midwifery information which is very informative and also RANDZCOG (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics) has really up to date factual information that I find is very handy.

What would you like all expecting Mothers to remember during all of this? 
I just think that because of all the uncertainty that is going on in the world, it's really important to focus on the positives and rest assured that the hospitals and Midwives are doing everything we can do to keep you and baby safe and healthy. As devastating as it is, it's also really reassuring that hospitals are being strict on people not being able to visit as they are doing their best to keep you and your baby safe. If you do have any concerns, please raise those concerns with your midwives and health care provider. They are all there to help and support you and want you to feel as confident and comfortable as possible. 
A great tip is also to just make your birthing suite as homely as possible. If you have older children at home, bring photos of them with you to the hospital. Put some battery operated fairy lights up, use electric oil diffusers, really make your birth room a safe space, make it feel homely so that it gives you the best chance during labour.

If you have any other questions you would like to ask Lauren, or if you'd like to learn more, you can visit her @onemamamidwife on Instagram. Love and strength to all you expecting Mamas, we are thinking of you! 
Team Bubnest