What to Expect When You’re Expecting During a Pandemic :: How Covid Changed My Birth Plan

Face Mask

I am a BIG planner. So, when my husband and I began family planning, I wanted to make sure there was no detail left behind.

From the day we got a positive pregnancy test, I began planning my perfect pregnancy. I laid out a template for my birth plan, took to Pinterest to curate a beautiful baby shower, and picked out poses for our first family pictures post-delivery.

Knowing my affinity for preparedness, my OB sent me home from my first prenatal appointment with a book on what to expect, along with suggestions for further reading to help me feel as ready as possible for the nine-month journey ahead. Then, early into my second trimester, as news of Coronavirus began to take over media headlines, my OB gave me another reading assignment.

This time I would be reading what to expect when you’re expecting during the Covid-19 pandemic.

After reading through the pamphlets and print-outs outlining best practices and safety guidelines from the professionals, I took to my favorite pregnancy and parenting blogs to read stories from real women who were going through this crazy time with me. As my due date approached, I was proud to say I had learned a lot. I also had a new, modified birth plan, fit for labor and delivery in a pandemic.

The first thing I learned, unsurprisingly, is that the hospital is the last place you want to be during a pandemic.

So, the first significant change I decided to make would be that I would labor at home for as long as possible before heading to the hospital for delivery. Be sure to speak to your health care provider if you plan to do the same. They will likely recommend screening for strep-b around 36 weeks. While this bacteria is naturally part of a healthy women’s biome, a positive test result during pregnancy means you’ll want to get to the hospital as soon as you have signs of labor so that you can start on antibiotics to protect your baby against the bacteria.

The second, and most difficult, thing to learn was that I would only be allowed one “guest” to enter the hospital with me.

This change meant no family or friends in the waiting room, and no mom or sister there to hold my hand. My husband would be my sole support person, and after reading endearing stories from my fellow mamas, I was at peace with that. But in a world of Covid-19 precautions, nothing is guaranteed.

To enter the hospital, each visitor must undergo a health screening and complete a questionnaire at the only open entrance to the hospital, which happened to be in the emergency room. If you are free of any signs, symptoms, or exposure to the virus, then you are given a wrist band for the day. This screening happens each day, as well as every time you exit and reenter the hospital. So, please, make sure you don’t forget anything in the car!

The extra safety precautions put in place by the hospital meant we would need to be extra cautious ourselves leading up to our son’s birth to ensure that my husband could be by my side. In the weeks leading up to the due date, we would need to monitor our health, make sure to social distance, and always wear a mask when leaving home.

Speaking of masks, let’s talk about the last main modification to my birth plan: the hospital bag.

My original hospital bag would have included a matching robe and swaddle set for mama and baby, complete with fuzzy slippers and baby booties. But thanks to shipping delays due to Covid and my bundle of joy coming two weeks early, I packed the real essentials: a face mask, a comfy nursing bra, and plenty of hand sanitizer. In hindsight, the one thing lacking in my hospital bag was a good camera. Because the hospital staff was limited to essential workers only, there was no newborn photographer available to capture those precious first moments.

Looking back, these changes weren’t all that bad.

There was something quite serene and grounding about going through early labor in my own home. Sure, social distancing meant that we had to cancel my perfectly planned and pinned baby shower, but it also meant that I had more time to myself to enjoy my growing belly. Yes, it was difficult not having any visitors during our hospital stay, but I got ample time with the nurses and learned how to swaddle like a pro! And after all, my baby didn’t need a fancy swaddle to look cute, and I didn’t look too shabby in my hospital gown and mesh panties.

Are you expecting during the pandemic? If you are pregnant and preparing for birth during the Covid-19 pandemic, check out the posts below by fellow Lafayette moms to help make the best of this unexpected time. 

You got this, mama!

Chai, a Louisiana native, was born and raised in New Orleans. In the fall of 2010, she set off to attend Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to study Organizational Development. Just a year later, she met her college sweetheart, Blake Domingues. After graduating, the two eloped in Jamaica with a beautiful garden ceremony and began their life together in the state's capital city. The couple recently decided to move to Blake's hometown of Lafayette, where he would join the Domingues family business, Ray Chevrolet. After nesting for about a year and making Lafayette feel like home, Chai was pleased to find out she was expecting! She delivered a healthy baby boy in May of 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic. Although her journey into motherhood was anything but ordinary, she is making the most of it and loving every moment!

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