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Many pregnant women across the globe are worrying about the same thing at the moment. What if I have to give birth alone? With many hospitals changing their normal birthing partner, doula and visiting rules due to Covid-19, many women are having to accept that the labor they had in mind when they wrote their birth plan may be quite different to the one they experience. At the time of writing, many hospitals are allowing just one birth partner to be present during the latter stages of labor and birth and leave soon after. However, if your partner is showing symptoms or needs to self-isolate themselves, this will remove their ability to support you during the labor.
The prospect of giving birth alone may be a hugely alien concept and cause a lot of anxiety and worry for expecting women. As a result, some are opting to try and give birth at home, which may actually increase the risks for mother and baby, should there be any complications. Whilst obviously giving birth alone in hospital wouldn’t be your first choice; here are some helpful steps to support you should you need to give birth without your partner.
Plan ahead – By the latter weeks of the third trimester you should already have your hospital bags packed and by the door ready to go, but a bit of forward planning is required when facing labor on your own. A separate ‘labor’ bag is a good idea, packed with isotonic drinks and energy boosting snacks, a fan, cold compress or anything else you would normally ask your birthing partner for help with during labor. It is also helpful to have the baby’s first outfit in a single bag at the top of your hospital bag, so that medical staff don’t need to rummage around trying to find babygrows, hats and diapers at the crucial moment!
Stay at home as long as possible – If you have experienced labor before, you should be fairly familiar with the signs, recognizing when your contractions are starting to become more regular. Whilst it’s important to keep track of how your labor is progressing, try to avoid heading into hospital too early, else you may find you have a long and lonely wait ahead of you. Use a contraction timing app on your phone to keep a log of how often your contractions occur, and head in when they start to be consistent and close together.
Try and stay calm – Remember your body knows what to do! Whilst the role of a birthing partner is important for emotional support, the physical task of birth falls to you. The body is a fascinating thing, and across the globe, many women give birth without medical intervention every day. Your body will guide you. Focus on your breathing and the end goal – meeting your baby! There are a number of different practical breathing techniques you can use during labor to help cope with your contractions and keep you calm.
Try and see past the PPE – Medical staff are very likely to be wearing personal protective equipment and on the surface this may seem a little scary – but remember, this is as much to protect you and your baby as it is them. Look into their eyes and see the smile behind the mask – remember he or she is a human being and is there to help you. More than ever, they will be looking out for the emotional wellbeing of Moms to be – talk to them, chat through your feelings and let them share this moment with you.
Don’t be scared to ask for help – Under normal circumstances, your partner may stick around after the birth to give you time to rest, or help lift your baby or collect items should you find moving difficult. Don’t be worried about asking for some help – you’re not a super hero. Particularly, after a c-section, getting in and out of bed is challenging; so don’t be ashamed to ask for some assistance.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that labor is always a fluid experience and rarely goes according to plan. Celebrate the huge achievement you are going to have of giving birth alone during a global pandemic – it’s definitely one to tell the grandkids!