When I first saw that positive pregnancy test back in November, I was so excited about all of the new things to come with my first pregnancy. One thing I definitely did not expect to have to deal with during my first pregnancy was a global pandemic…
When the pandemic first started escalating in March, I was right around 20 weeks pregnant Fortunately, up until this point, I had a low-risk, healthy pregnancy. But I had no idea what to expect in terms of my prenatal care as our city went into lockdown.
My husband and I both had jobs that we could work from home, which I was grateful for, especially since they didn’t know the impact that the virus could have on pregnant women or their babies at that time. As someone who previously studied immunology, and considering it was my first pregnancy, I planned on being extra cautious and distancing myself from just about everyone except my husband.
As our city went into lockdown, most prenatal appointments were done via telemedicine unless you needed a procedure (i.e., lab work or ultrasound) or had a condition that needed to be monitored more closely. Since I was low risk and had a healthy pregnancy up to this point, a few of my visits were done via telemedicine. I found this to be a bit stressful because, as this was my first pregnancy, even though I felt good, I wasn’t sure if there was something I was missing. Luckily, as I approached the 3rd trimester, I needed some blood work and other tests done, which led to the longest time between being seen being only 6 weeks.
To help some of the anxiety I was feeling without the typical structure of prenatal appointments, I kept reminding myself that if I thought I really needed to be seen, I would be able to make an appointment. As I approached my due date and had a few more appointments under my belt, I finally got used to the new procedures at the hospital with temperature screenings and check-ins in the main lobby before you were able to go up to the office.
What was particularly hard on my husband was that he could not attend any of my appointments with me since the hospital did not allow any visitors. Fortunately, we had just completed our 20-week anatomy ultrasound the week before the hospital instated new policies due to COVID, so he could be present for that. But he hated not being able to join on the other appointments as he really wanted to be involved throughout the pregnancy. Trust me when I say how lucky I am to have him as my husband.
And while having no visitors for regular appointments isn’t all that bad, it is hard on others who want to be involved in your pregnancy journey, or for moms with older kids, they had to then figure out new arrangements for them to be able to still go to their appointments. For me, I know I could’ve really used some extra support towards the end of my pregnancy as I struggled with some high blood pressure related to anxiety. To this day, I am still grateful that it didn’t cause any complications with my pregnancy.
Now for the big day…
My birth plan included a natural birth with laboring at home as long as possible before heading to the hospital. During my delivery, I was only able to have 1 visitor in the hospital with me, which was going to be my husband. And to help with some of the confusion of the new COVID restrictions when arriving at the hospital, my Dr had gone over how to check in at a previous prenatal appointment. And while I felt prepared, it is definitely a different feeling to try and do some of these things while you are in the middle of labor.
When we got to the hospital, both my husband and I had to go through temperature screenings and COVID-related questionnaires. I was grateful that the staff was well used to the process by now for women in labor. They got us through more quickly than I ever had when I checked in for my regular prenatal appointments. I was so grateful for their efficiency! Especially since – what I didn’t realize at the time – that I was in the transition part of my labor, so my contractions were frequent and intense.
After completing the primary check-in, we still had to do another screening at the labor and delivery unit. This meant that we were in a waiting room with a few other couples who were waiting to be induced – it became clear to me that I was the only one in labor at this time. After answering COVID related questions with one of the nurses, I was sent back to the waiting room until they could get a room ready with a COVID test waiting for me. While waiting, my water broke, which considerably sped up the process of getting me into a room.
Little did I know that when I arrived in the room, I was already 10 cm dilated and ready to push. So the nurses had to quickly do the COVID nasal swab, which seemed like the worst thing ever at this point in my labor. However, looking back on it, I realized it really wasn’t all that bad.
Since they didn’t have time to wait for my COVID test results, my delivery team had to wear full PPE, including gowns, masks, and face shields. But they could not have been better during my delivery, and my son and I’s health was their biggest priority. My mask was on for the entire process while in the hospital, which is not easy to deal with, but it’s doable.
We waited in the delivery room until the results of my COVID test, which were negative. Then we were able to be transferred to the maternity floor. We were in the hospital for only about 36 hours since my delivery was free of complications for both my son and me. Whenever any hospital staff entered the room, we were to wear our masks, which helped us feel comforted knowing that the staff was taking all precautions to prevent the spreading of the virus.
Since this was my first delivery experience, I have nothing to compare it to. Still, when I talk to others, they say it is quite different from what they experience pre-COVID. All I know is that I feel incredibly grateful to my hospital staff and delivery team for protecting my family and working really hard to prevent the spread of the virus to this population. I also hope that this information helps moms-to-be who are wondering what their delivery experience may be like during the current environment.
Let me know in the comment section below about your COVID delivery experience or any questions you may have if you are waiting to deliver during this time.