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Strategies for Coping With the Uncertainty of Giving Birth During a Pandemic

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Birth matters. It is an intimate experience that requires a woman’s full awareness and power. The art of giving birth changes everyone in the room — babies get their first glimpse of the world, women evolve into mothers, men become fathers and healthcare providers unite as a bonded tribe of warriors a family will always remember.

No one plans to give birth during a global pandemic. Birth plans were not created with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in mind. Parents-to-be, physicians, therapists and birth workers typically create safe birthing plans that involve community, support, creativity and touch. But due to social distancing, hugs are in limited supply as loved ones and support networks are limited to sending only “good vibes” via voice, video and text.

The way we experience birth is changing. In times of uncertainty, we tend to overlook the tender, life-formative moments because the global stuff is so overwhelming. But these life beginning moments are big, and we’re not going to get them back.

Memories are being made, right now. Women are still going to their appointments, either in-person or virtually. Ultrasounds are happening. Gender reveals and baby showers are going online. In staying together apart, our sense of community is strong, yet socially isolating. It takes effort to feel supported, and to be the helper. We need each other more than ever, yet we have to be creative in how we reach out and receive.

In working with birthing mothers, I’ve been humbled to see the shift from fear to resilience and perseverance, as well as acceptance. We are birthing in uncertain times, and sending women into birth has evolved into building her warrior toolkit full of power and strength. While no one wishes to give birth with a virus lurking outside, we can make plans to embrace the unknown with resilience, grit and grace.

Pregnant belly with the words "My power is within me"

As mothers prepare their hospital bags full of comfy clothes and baby blankets, it’s important to consider bringing these concepts along as well:

Power lies within. In times of uncertainty, it’s important to consider the things that are within your control, and where you need to surrender. Your power lies within you. Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time, and you are birthing among these amazing mothers.

You are resilient. Be flexible and adapt to the ever-changing environment. Attempt to simplify the moment by taking a breath and responding to the helpers who are present to guide you through your birth.

You can do hard things. You have been through hard things before, and you will go through hard things in the future. This is one of those times. Be brave, have courage, surrender to vulnerability while embracing your strength.

Be a mama bear. Use your voice. Procedures may be changing and the support you envisioned may look different. However, you and your baby have the right to a healthy birth experience, both physically and emotionally. Your rights as a mother have not changed; feed your baby as you wish, insist on rooming-in or getting rest according to your body’s needs, and be honest with your need for support and how you feel.

Keep perspective. As much as we wish things were different, remember that everyone has the same desire — for babies to come into a healthy world with healthy mothers. Remembering that everyone is on your side and is helpful. You are birthing during a global pandemic, but you are still in a safe space.

Feel all of your feels. It’s OK to feel grateful, but have other feelings, too. It’s safe to do your part in supporting public health, while feeling heartbroken that the birth you envisioned looks different. It’s OK to feel joy along with grief, and fear along with love.

Write your story. Every thought and memory matters. Write it all and keep it close. Be creative in how you choose to share your news; be mindful on your social media and use it to safely share your joys. Invite your loved ones into your moment when you are ready. Enjoy your alone time with your baby, and embrace together time with your loved ones when you decide it’s right.

Be kind to yourself postpartum. Birthing during a pandemic is traumatic. Even if birth goes well, the environment is inherently stressful. Be an advocate for yourself and child. If you are struggling after birth with your thoughts or emotions, talk to your doctor or therapist. Your mental health matters.

You are not alone. You are surrounded by a community of warriors wanting you to shine!

For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our community:

Getty image by nicoletaionescu

Originally published: May 2, 2020
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