We are in unprecedented times, and for all our birthing families the situation is compounded. Pregnancy is already a time of overwhelm and anxiety; throw in a pandemic and, well, everyone’s nervous system is on overdrive.
I understand the fears as daily we see that our medical system is unprepared for the sick. When you are nearing your due date and you are constantly inundated with images of hospitals around the world turning into a war zone, it’s no wonder that many families are now grappling with the possibility of home or birth-center birth.
Labor of Love alone has received numerous emails, messages, texts and calls about switching care. As a childbirth educator and doula here is my opinion:
Home-birthing is a safe option for some but not everyone.
For a home-birth you must be low risk. That means no complications or variations that make you high risk. It is pretty easy to understand if you are in this category and if you are high risk stick with your hospital plan.
If you have never considered a home-birth before this moment, stick with your hospital plan. Preparing for a home-birth comes with a lot of responsibility; and again, home-birthing is not for everyone. You will not be able to have any pain relief which is a huge commitment on everyone’s part; yourself, your partner, your birth team. If your plan was a hospital birth with pain medication, stick with your plan.
If you are making this decision because you are afraid, do more research. Ask your doctor point blank:
What does the hospital situation look like? What is expected?
How many cases of COVID-19 are being treated there?
How isolated is the Labor & Delivery ward?
What level of crisis is your county in? For example, in Orange County, Ca, most of our hospitals do not have any cases currently (as of 3/24/2020). And our largest hospital is our most prepared facility to manage this moment in time.
DO NOT MAKE THIS DECISION OUT OF FEAR!
You can actually create more trauma. Home-birthing is not easy especially for first timers.
If you have run through all the above and you are still feeling confident about moving forward with a home-birth contact a local home-birth midwife. In Orange County, Ca, a simple Google search will pull up tens of options. Read more about them individually and call them to see what care would look like and if it is right for you. Keep in mind the financial responsibility, their availability for attending to late add-on births for their calendar and how many years of experience they have behind them. At this time you want to invest in an experienced midwife that understands the current intense protocols for COVID-19.
Here are good resources to start your search:
On the note of a birth-center birth I have a very strong and most likely unpopular opinion (especially in my community) however, my honesty is why people seek me out.
To start, as this epidemic comes to Orange County, my confidence in the hospital system strengthens. Our team has already been with several clients in various hospitals from Long Beach to the OC and witnessed the tactics that are being put in place to support patients and staff. They are the experts and we trust their authority as we face the uncertainty of this situation.
When it comes to cleanliness and sanitation, a hospital has an entire trained and professional staff. They are using the most up-to-date tactics to ensure safety and disinfect their facilities. If you are not in a hot zone, your hospital is strategically preparing for what may come. They are rolling out policy and procedures to keep everyone safe, especially their Labor & Delivery wards. I want us not to lose confidence in our initial plan of action if you have always been preparing for a hospital birth. My dearest friends are hospital midwives that have shared with me the hard work they are doing to ensure a quality and safe experience for their patients.
With that said, my concern with a birth center, facing our current situation, is their ability to maintain and guarantee such high risk sanitation. While I know not a popular opinion in my doula community, this is a big fear for me as I do not have the same confidence in disinfecting the birth center as numerous families use those rooms daily. We are heading into uncharted territory and, in all honestly, I have greater trust in the hospital system and their protocol for sanitation and protection at this time.
I hope this helps - my intentions are that we are still making decisions that are right on an individual level not a fear based level. When in doubt get quiet and lean into you intuition. Remember that fear is a call to action! How can your support yourself best in this moment.