Delivering during a pandemic is stressful, especially if you’re a first-time mom who was already unsure of what birth can be like. Knowing what to expect can help ease some of that worry, which is why we asked moms who’ve recently delivered to chime in with what they wished they knew beforehand.
Before You Deliver, Make Some Calls
Get familiar with current hospital policies
“Find out the most recent hospital policy. We just came home yesterday and didn’t know they still have a coffee room with snacks, for my husband, until we were leaving. Things are always changing and you might be pleasantly surprised or AT LEAST not blindsided. Everyone was really nice and they’re just trying to keep you safe, not torture you.”
Ask about COVID testing
“Ask, if your doc doesn’t directly tell you (mine did just fine) what the COVID testing procedure will be upon your admittance. Our hospital tested before admittance for scheduled c-sections and inductions, and when you check in for spontaneous labor, like mine. The nurses tried their best to do mine between contractions, they were very kind and excellent.”
Make sure you’re not missing anything, like the car seat!
“Call your hospital and understand their policies. We had to bring everything in with us – including the car seat! My husband wasn’t allowed to leave our room AT ALL – not to the cafeteria not to walk the halls nothing. If he walked out of my room he would not be allowed back in. They brought him meals – he didn’t get a selection just whatever they brought he got. Overall we had a really wonderful experience and felt very safe and well cared for but it was a different experience this time around!”
(This article has a few other suggestions about what to ask your care provider that might be helpful.)
Stock Up on Snacks
The cafeteria might be closed
“Call the hospital to ask about meals. Cafeteria was closed when I had baby at the end of April. They allowed husband to choose meals that they brought to him. However, my friend just had a baby two days ago and her husband didn’t have that option and had to go to the cafeteria. Ask what to expect for your food and husbands. I honestly had a great birthing experience despite this virus crap and the lack of visitors was actually quite nice and relaxing. We knew going home to our two other kids would be insanity so we relished the quiet time with our newest.”
There might be a limited meal options
“The hospital where I delivered had a limited menu set for each day. You didn’t order food, they just brought you whatever was on the list for that day. If you had allergies, preferences, or a special diet you were just out of luck. I would have packed better quality food for my stay as the selections were lousy. They also didn’t give food to the support person, just the patient.”
Don’t count on vending machines for late night snacks
“The cafeteria was closed, the patient comfort rooms were empty, and the vending machines were empty. If I woke up hungry from breastfeeding in the middle of the night I just had to wait until they brought breakfast.”
What to Pack
Pump, snacks, and caffeine – the staples of early motherhood
“The best thing we thought to bring was my breast pump, the one the hospital provided never worked well for me and I was so much more successful with getting a good start to breastfeeding with a pump I was more comfortable with. We also packed a ton of snacks and Starbucks Frappuccinos/espresso drinks because we weren’t allowed to visit the cafeteria once we delivered either.”
A way to make documenting things easier
“We spent time in the NICU and only one caregiver was allowed at a time due to COVID. I wish I had either a selfie stick or a little tripod and remote for my phone to get better pictures of myself and the baby.”
Get ready to live that #masklife
“Delivered a few days ago. Bring a few masks. Bring lots of snacks so you don’t need to go to the cafeteria. Hand sanitizer and germ free wipes would have been a good idea.”
Keep your personal items close by (and untouchable)
“Bring your own bag of items to leave on your bedside table that includes extra mask, hand sanitizer, chapstick, anything you don’t want anyone else touching to give to you.”
A tiny token of thanks
“I’m a mom and an OB/GYN. We are truly doing our best to help families have the birth experience they imagined through the chaos of COVID. It’s hard to imagine the impact that this has on our own families. I would make a plug to consider bringing a small gift for the staff at your hospital or birth center. A tasty treat or some stickers for hospital badges or anything you can think of.”
A Few Other Considerations for Delivering in a Pandemic
Your support person might need to double as your photographer
“I just delivered three weeks ago and although we knew about only being allowed one visitor for the whole time and such, I didn’t realize that the hospital photographer service would not be used. In the haze of a failed epidural and not having anyone else in the room like my mom, we missed so many moments in just not thinking about it. Make sure your one support person takes the pictures!”
The nursery might be closed
“The nursery was completely closed. And everything was done in our room. Hearing test. Shots. Bath. Everything. I didn’t bring my blanket and pillow from home because of the thought of germs but my husband could leave and get us food whenever he wanted.”
Be prepared to stay powered up
“Had our baby in April. The only thing I would add is bring a charging power bank because you will spend more time doing video chats with family. Your charging cord may not reach your phone*. Also, bring a carseat cover to protect the baby from people’s germs on the way out of the hospital.”
*Another popular suggestion was to bring an extra long charging cord.
It might be time to change providers
“Find a trauma-informed provider. I had a wonderful out-of-hospital birth, but switched from one birth center to a different one at 35 weeks because the one I switched to acknowledged and paid attention to the trauma that families are experiencing in having a baby during a pandemic. It felt much more validating when my fears were listened to, my grief was seen, and every attempt was made to minimize further trauma.”
Delivering during a pandemic isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s worth mentioning that so many of the responses we got were positive! The full list can be found here.
Did you deliver during the pandemic?
What advice do you have for moms getting ready for their big day?
Some posts have been edited for length and/or clarity. Thanks to everyone who chimed in!