In speaking with families who have birthed during COVID-19, a consistent theme emerged: loneliness. At a time when you are supposed to be surrounded by your people, traditional support systems have largely been unavailable. Where can families turn for support during COVID-19?
Holly’s story: birth during COVID-19
“As our daughter’s due date approached, we were as “prepared” as any first time parents could be … We were ready. Until we weren’t.
Layer by layer, our support structures were stripped away.
I’d later recount that arrival at the hospital was eerie. The lobby was completely empty except for a security guard and two people screening for symptoms and handing out masks. Thankfully, my husband was with me. The piano that was once there to provide an uplifting ambiance now sat abandoned, setting a different tone. It was lonely.
The rest of our experience at the hospital was equally surreal. Though wonderfully compassionate, our care team kept their distance, only entering the room when necessary or when called. I was required to wear a mask at all times, including during labor. Yet another barrier to veil my raw and emotional experience — hiding my expressions from even my husband.
We opted to have our doula support us virtually. While not ideal, it turned out to be essential since the clinical staff avoided any extra time in our delivery room. Via FaceTime or AirPods, she helped us with positional shifts, comfort measures, support coaching for my husband, and — most importantly — self-advocacy advice when complications arose. After delivery, nurse visits were few and far between. We needed to quickly become self-sufficient with a newborn and get very comfortable using the call button to receive help. We unfortunately got caught up in shift changes during critical transition points (arrival, pushing, and postpartum transfer), which exacerbated the feeling that we were on our own. At least at that point we were lonely together.”
Where can you find support for birth during COVID-19?
Holly’s story is not unusual. Support looks different during COVID-19. Clients report being touched less by nurses and providers, feeling like staff spent as little time as possible in their rooms or “hovered in the doorway”. Friends and family aren’t coming by the house to offer support and congratulations. Support groups and social circles are gathering “virtually” online.
And more than ever, the pressure is on your primary support person – your partner, your spouse, your family or friend who will be with you during your birth – to provide ALL your support. It can feel overwhelming. You may find yourself wondering, where are my people?
While we can’t take away the pandemic and the challenges that come with it, we are here to ease the burdens you carry. We’re here to help educate, train, and prepare you and your support person for whatever lies ahead with childbirth education classes and extended prenatal coaching sessions as part of our birth doula package. We’re continuously with you virtually during your labor and birth to help guide and advocate for you, to help you breathe, and to help you think through and feel confident about your decisions .
After your birth, our work is not done. We continue to provide reassurance, answer questions, and connect you with valuable resources as you build your new postpartum community. We may not be able to put our hands physically on your body – but we are still here for you in all the other ways that count. Where are your people who will help support you during COVID-19? We’re right here.