All pregnant women feel interesting emotions and concerns while they are expecting. Fears and worry seem to simmer below the surface at all times. But right now, during these uncertain moments, women have even more to think about. If you are pregnant, you might be wondering how you can safely receive prenatal care without exposing yourself to a medical facility, and that’s if your care providers are even keeping office appointments. Perhaps you are near to your due time and worrying about giving birth in a hospital. You still have options.
The truth is that your care provider does not give you prenatal care. You provide your own care with their support and guidance. That’s the way it’s always been. Ask about telehealth visits. Your care provider can ask and answer questions and screen you for concerning symptoms. Your care provider is a resource for you. Only you can apply what you learn from them.
While we’re on the subject of care-providers…
Doctors – Right now doctors are on the front line of this pandemic. They work in places where sick people go. They take care of sick people. Again, ask about telehealth visits.
Midwives – Just by numbers alone, midwives are less exposed to sick people because their practices, and consequently their exposure, are usually much less than physicians. An experienced midwife, licensed or not, can guide you through these uncertain weeks.
The Internet – An option that is not often discussed is the “unassisted” method. Utilize an online community of freebirthers and ask questions. Naturally, there will be those hucksters who crop up in every disaster to take advantage of the situation. You don’t need to take an expensive course to take care of yourself.
Yes, women are still delivering in hospitals. Most facilities are not allowing anyone beyond one support person. For instance, your partner OR a doula OR your mom. It sounds scary and bleak but women have been birthing babies entirely alone for eons. Think of the pioneers, alone on a prairie or in a covered wagon, with just their husband or kids present while they gave birth. The alone factor is the least of your worries! The lack of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for medical personnel has made every visit to any hospital dangerous. Require anyone stepping foot into your hospital room to wash their hands and change their PPE. The truth is that you are better off if they stay out of the room unless you have an emergency.
Small Freestanding Birth Center:
Large birth centers have the same challenges as hospitals with the added danger that they are often attached to hospitals. Meal carts, housekeeping, and clerical workers may freely come and go. We now know that the live virus might be able to survive on surfaces for hours if not days.
Smaller freestanding birth centers are usually owned and operated by a care-provider. Your chances of exposure will be less. Smaller operations like these are usually quite open to your requests for them to change clothes, wear masks, and offer some of that emotional support you won’t get because you are only allowed one companion.
Homebirth is a realistic option. Choose an experienced birth attendant (licensed or not) who will come to your home when you are in labor. She should change her clothes and wear a mask and gloves to protect you. She should be able to monitor your condition and determine if you need more advanced care at a hospital. You probably will have full control over who is allowed to be at your birth.
If there is anything that has not been covered in this overview, please feel free to ask.