By Ashley Salamacha
To all you expectant mamas out there:
I guarantee when you found out you were pregnant, you never expected that you would be giving birth during a pandemic. Neither did I, but I survived. I’d like to reassure all of you that you will, too. And you might even enjoy it a bit.
I have two sons – one who is 5 and one who is just 3 weeks old. So, I have gone through childbirth during “normal” circumstances, as well as during the pandemic. My insights might help you prepare and, perhaps, ease some of your anxiety.
Labor and delivery:
When I gave birth to my first son, everyone was there. My parents, my sister, and my husband’s parents. They were in my room up until the time I began pushing. It was a big deal for everyone. You may have been planning for the same thing, but I am here to tell you that having one person with you during labor and delivery is probably the greatest gift you could ask for. My husband was able to focus on me the whole time. We even shared some laughs in between contractions.
My room was calm, and the doctor and nurses came in when they needed to. I did not have to ask anyone to leave while I was being examined, nor did I feel exposed in the lovely hospital gown. I was able to relax to a certain extent.
The “Golden Hour” is the hour after you give birth to that beautiful little baby, when he or she is placed on your chest and you can revel at the miracle that just occurred. This is the time when you can take a few breaths after all of that pushing and just be calm.
With my first son, my husband stayed with me for the majority of this precious time. But he did leave for a few minutes to tell all who were waiting for the good news. This time, with no one to alert in the waiting room, he got to enjoy the peace of those first beautiful minutes. You can take the time to really enjoy what just happened. What you just did. You are amazing and you deserve this time to congratulate yourself and take in the joy of your newborn.
Your hospital stay:
In normal circumstances, you will be in the hospital for at least 36 hours after you give birth. This gives doctors and nurses time to check the baby out and assure that things are OK. With my firstborn, we had many visitors. Everyone wanted to meet the baby, hold him, give him some love.
This time, no visitors were allowed. And truth be told, I didn’t hate it. Let’s face it – you don’t feel yourself after giving birth. You’re uncomfortable. You may have taken a shower, but it wasn’t a good one. Nurses are coming in every few hours to push on your belly and take your vitals and ask questions you might not want your relatives hearing.
The lack of visitors allowed us to enjoy the first 24 hours with our newborn son. To figure things out again. We were able to get some rest while the baby slept and, as we all know, that is the most important thing. We were discharged after 24 hours because we were ready to go home.
After you get home:
Once again, with my firstborn, it felt like there was always someone stopping over to say hello, to congratulate us, to hold the baby, and to make sure we had everything we needed. While this was welcome, I have not missed it that much this time around. Yes, we still have people calling to check in on us and sending us things, but we don’t feel the pressure that goes with visitors.
My husband and I can make sure our older son is adjusting to the baby without the added pressure of guests coming and going. We can give him the attention he needs, but also focus on the needs of our newborn. We can get to know him better and understand his noises and his cries because it’s just us here. We can adjust to being a family of four.
I think this is hardest on our families, specifically our parents. We call or FaceTime with them often so that they can see the baby and we’ve had a few social distancing visits. This is temporary. They will all get to hold him soon enough. But for now, it is OK that we get to keep him to ourselves.
Giving birth during a pandemic, while not what we expected, has its positives. It’s OK if you are scared or worried or concerned that you can’t do it. I was, but I got through it and so will you. Rely on your partner, revel in the miracle that you just brought into the world and enjoy the time you have as a family. You’ll have to share that baby soon enough, but the pandemic allows us to keep our babies to ourselves for just a little while longer.