Phew. Where do we even start? We are currently entering week three of self quarantine and the energy in the air is…stagnant. I will be honest – I am struggling to write this. I am grasping the air for inspiration after being locked in the house for nearly eighteen days. As much as I tried not to write blog posts focusing on COVID-19 (there are plenty of news sources and reports on Coronavirus to make your head spin), I realize that our pregnant mamas are in for a different type of battle. With the hospitals being filled to capacity and the fear of catching this debilitating virus, many are left wondering, what are my options when it comes to my birth?
Should I Still Birth In A Hospital?
Hospital births are under major stress at the current moment. Mothers are being dressed in full hazmat suits before entering hospitals. Husbands and support systems are not being allowed to attend the birth of their babies. Needless to say, no mom has been properly prepared to give birth under these circumstances.
Yesterday we sat down with Latham Thomas, founder of Mama Glow, to discuss what options mothers have as it pertains to a hospital birth. Latham’s number one suggestion? Hire a doula. No matter where you are in your pregnancy, it is not too late to have a doula coach you through your birth. Latham says as a doula, one of her goals is to help control the narrative for a birth mama. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong right now, a doula helps mama learn how to breathe, control her stress, be her advocate, and deliver a healthy newborn. Even though your doula may not be able to attend your birth, they can join you as a virtual doula and coach you over the phone or computer.
What Options Do I Have For Birth Support?
Even if you are 36 weeks pregnant, it is not too late to hire birth support. Hired birth support can include a doula or a midwife.
According to American Pregnancy, a doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. (source: https://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/having-a-doula/). Doulas can be extremely essential during the pregnancy, birth, and afterbirth experience. While doulas are not medically trained, they work to act more as your pregnancy and birth coach and advocate during childbirth.
Statistics show that women that hire a doula during pregnancy are least likely to need a Cesarean birth and tend to stick to their desire, if so, to have a natural birthing process. Doulas are sort of like your knowledgeable pregnant best friend without needing to be pregnant too. When it comes time for labor, they will be the support system reminding you to breathe while at the same time making sure your delivering doctor or midwife is keeping your needs first. Thanks to sources like Mama Glow, you can find a doula of color in your area that will keep your needs first. While doulas are not normally covered in your health insurance, their services are reasonably priced and some work with clients on a sliding fee scale.
Your midwife is kind of like your supremely educated pregnant bestie that can provide more medical advice and actually birth your baby at the same time. You can ask your midwife the same sort of questions you can ask your doula but a midwife can also:
- Deliver your baby
- Admit and discharge you from the hospital
- Do prenatal exams and order tests
- Make doctor referrals
- Monitor your physical and psychological health
- Provide family planning and preconception care
Midwives are typically covered in most insurance plans as long as your baby is birthed in a hospital or birthing center. Insurance does not typically cover midwives for home births. The average cost of a midwife is around $2000 but if applicable, your insurance will cover a partial or total amount of their fees.
Should I Choose A Home Birth?
With hospitals currently overcrowded and even some birthing centers shutting down, a home birth may be an ideal choice for you. Choosing a homebirth should be a decision made after consulting with your medical care provider. A homebirth is where a mama births her baby in the comfort of her own home. This birth is normally attended by a doula or a midwife but for more experienced moms, they may choose to have an unassisted birth. Unassisted births should only be considered under proper training and education and not a decision made due to the pressures of COVID-19.
Home births should also be reserved for those that are considered low risk pregnancies. This means that you are typically under 35 years of age and do not have any pre-existing health conditions. Women that are pregnant with multiples, have had a previous Cesarean birth, or have babies that are breech are considered high risk pregnancies but may still be eligible. Please speak with your medical provider before making any decisions on your birth options.
Mama, no matter what you choose during this time, the goal is to birth a healthy baby. What birth options have you considered amid the pandemic?