Covid-19 – How Does it Affect Having a Positive Pregnancy & Birth?
There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty surrounding pregnancy and birth now and I’ve had several enquiries this week from ladies asking about birth partners being unable to attend and worried about how they’d cope with birth alone. I thought this would be a good time to write a blog and hopefully put minds at ease as the current guidelines are still looking positive and with a bit of forward planning we can come up with alternatives if needs be, whilst still preparing for a positive birth.
In the words of the Positive Birth Movement:
“You can birth with positivity in hospital or at home, with or without medical intervention. You can have a positive caesarean, or a positive home water birth. Positive Birth is about approaching birth realistically, having genuine choice, and feeling empowered by your experience.”
So what are your options for a Positive Birth?
The RCOG (as at 30th March 2020) is still recommending that:
“Women should be permitted and encouraged to have a birth partner present with them in their labour and during birth. Having a trusted birth partner present throughout labour is known to make a significant difference to the safety and well-being of women in childbirth. A single, asymptomatic birth partner should be permitted to stay with the woman, at a minimum, through pregnancy and birth, unless the birth occurs under general anaesthetic.”
They also state that if symptomatic of Covid-19,
“Birth partners should remain in self-isolation and not attend the unit. Women should be advised when making plans about birth to identify potential alternative birth partners, should the need arise”.
Key points to note are as follows:
- All available evidence suggests that pregnant women are at no greater risk of becoming seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they develop coronavirus.
- As this is a very new virus, we are just beginning to learn about it. There is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage.
- Emerging evidence suggests that transmission from a woman to her baby during pregnancy or birth (vertical transmission) is probable. It is important to emphasise that in all reported cases of newborn babies developing coronavirus very soon after birth, the babies were well.
- Given current evidence, it is considered unlikely that if you have the virus it would cause problems with your baby’s development, and none have been observed currently.
- In the recent UK study of 427 pregnant women with coronavirus published on 11 May, the data reported outcomes for babies who were born to women with coronavirus severe enough that the woman required hospital admission. Although almost one in five were born prematurely and were admitted to a neonatal unit, fewer than 20 babies were born very prematurely (when the women were less than 32 weeks’ pregnant). One in 20 babies born (12 babies in total) had a positive test for coronavirus, but only half of these babies – 6 babies – had a positive test immediately after birth, suggesting that transmission of the coronavirus infection from a woman to her baby is low. The number of babies born at term (37 weeks or later) to women who had tested positive for coronavirus that required neonatal care was similar to the number of babies born to women without the virus – about 1 in 10.
After the birth:
- There is no evidence that women who have recently had a baby and are otherwise well are at increased risk of contracting coronavirus or of becoming seriously unwell.
- Children, including newborns, do not appear to be at high risk of becoming seriously unwell with the virus. However, close observation of hygiene, as always, is important and particularly with family members resident in the house.
- Once restrictions are lifted, we would caution against large family gatherings to celebrate your baby’s arrival until more is known about the spread of the virus in the community.
- Do not put off seeking medical advice if you have concerns about your baby’s health during the pandemic. Seek medical advice if your baby has a fever, lethargy, irritability, poor feeding or any other symptoms you may have concerns about.
There’s also your local maternity services – for those in Plymouth, you may find this page useful: University Hospitals Plymouth Facebook Page
There are still lots of positives for HypnoBirthing
Another positive is that, with planning, hopefully your birth partner being unable to attend can be avoided. For example, in the weeks leading up to birth it could be that you both decide to self-isolate to ensure minimal exposure. I will however be adding a little to the HypnoBirthing course so that we can prepare for every eventuality and you can remain calm, confident and as prepared as ever.
Despite current events there’s still so much we can control when it comes to birth and many ways that we can support your body and mind to keep calm and relaxed in any eventuality. Your body is perfectly designed for birth and there are many ways to support it, some ideas are as follows:
- Think about your birthing environment – smells, dimming the lights, home comforts, music, display or playing affirmations – anything that helps you to stay in your ‘nest’ and feel comforted.
- Staying home for the early stages of labour – you can have a birth, walk around with your partner, rest and relax or even watch some episodes of your favourite comedy to get you laughing before making the journey to hospital.
- Asking the midwife to help you – they’re there to help and amazing at it too so if there’s something you’d like help with or to support you have the birth you’d like, just ask!
- In Hypnobirthing we encourage using your BRAINS so that you can make the decision that’s right for you and your baby – this is an easy process to look at all options and a big part of the course so that you feel prepared for all eventualities.
I hope this little blog has put your mind at ease and will continue to update as things change. Of course preparation is always advised – whether this is through research, keeping up to date with official guidelines or signing up to a quality Hypnobirthing course with me where you’ll be supported to make the best decisions for you, part of a Facebook group with regular inspiration, updates and have access to resources that will support you in achieving your own positive birth. Not forgetting learning the skills to remain calm and in control whatever happens.
For a copy of my free guide to having a calm, gentle birth: Click Here
More details about the courses and how to sign up are here:
I’m also offering discounted individual Hypnobirthing courses and shorter antenatal workshops for those short on time – you can find more details about those below and don’t forget to keep an eye on my Facebook page for upcoming pregnancy relaxation sessions: https://www.facebook.com/hilltophypnotherapy/
One last thing – a comment from two of my recent online Hypnobirthing course attendees that I hope will be encouraging to anyone reading this is posted below – it really is possible to feel excited and positive about birth: