#17 | Roundtable: How COVID-19 Protocols are Affecting Pregnant Couples

April 1, 2020

Pregnant and birthing mothers face unprecedented challenges in birth choices during the Coronavirus pandemic. Not only are they concerned about exposure to the virus; but also, many are being told they may have to give birth alone - without the presence of their very own partners, let alone their doulas and other immediate family members. As hospitals across the country have begun to ban labor support, expecting parents face the possible reality of not sharing the birth of their child with each other — and the babies’ fathers missing out on the birth entirely. Today, three expectant mothers share the impacts of social isolation during pregnancy, and their frustrations, hopes, and suddenly-shifting plans for giving birth in the time of Coronavirus. Tune in for this intimate discussion on Covid-19 and its emotional impact on pregnancy and birth.

ACOG: Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients
CDC Update: COVID-19 for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Women
National Perinatal Association: COVID-19
La Leche League International: Coronavirus and Pregnancy
Harvard Medical School: Pregnant and Worried About the New Coronavirus?
International Confederation of Midwives Statement on Women's Rights During Corona Pandemic
Corona Virus Global Tracker

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If you enjoyed this episode of the Down To Birth Show, please share with your pregnant and postpartum friends!

Between episodes, connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). We are always happy to hear from you and will strive to feature your questions and comments on upcoming shows.

You can sign up for online HypnoBirthing childbirth classes for pregnant couples taught by Cynthia Overgard, as well as online breastfeeding classes and weekly postpartum support groups run by Cynthia & Trisha at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut

Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week!

View Episode Transcript

Hey everyone, we have a quick announcement for our listeners everywhere that due to social distancing right now, all of my HypnoBirthing childbirth education classes are being taught, live via zoom. After teaching in person classes only since 2007, I was definitely a little curious to see how this would go. Because the quality of the class is so important to me and feeling connected is so important to me. And I have to say, it's been going really well. This is the complete 14 hour accredited hypnobirthing course. And it can be taken anytime during pregnancy. So no matter where you live, you're welcome to join us. It'd be fun to have a class of listeners from all different locations who can share experiences, and yes, your materials can be shipped. If you're curious to see what that online experience will be like. That's totally understandable. I do offer a free information session or open house every couple of weeks. So you can head on over to HypnoBirthingCT.com and RSVP for my next one that's coming up in just a couple of days. Because that too will be offered online via zoom. So it'll give you a sense of what the experience will be like we all see each other. We all see each other's faces and you'll get to check out the sound quality and and all that. And finally, Tricia and I are also offering our six week postpartum support series as well via zoom. So just because we can't be in each other's presence right now, there is absolutely no reason that anyone should have to miss out on the education and connection and support and friendship we all crave and deserve and need prenatally and postpartum. You can reach out to us on our Instagram page anytime as well at down to birth show. Thanks so much. We've got a great show for you today. And we want to thank Natalie, Lexie, and Ashley for doing such a great job articulating what it's been like to be pregnant and navigating a birth plan in the age of Coronavirus.

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast.
Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

Thank you all for being here with me and Trisha today. So we have Natalie, Lexie and Ashley. And we'd love to start with each of you telling us in that order a little bit about how it's been going. All along and then how Coronavirus has suddenly impacted things for you or made a change for you.

Hi, everyone. Um, I am currently 38 weeks pregnant. I will be 39 weeks next week and I'm due April six. So, it's been a whirlwind of emotions, but it is our first and we're having a little girl. And it's been amazing. It's been a great experience. Pregnancy has been a wild ride one that you know you can't possibly anticipate, but it's overall it's been good. It's been great.

And then with everything that's been happening with Coronavirus, it's been a bit stressful the past two months when it really hit home, but we're staying positive and you know, trying to look on the brighter side of things and just kind of take it day by day without stressing too much.

Okay, Lexi.

Yeah, so Lexi married to Oliver. And this is our first child, about 28 Weeks Pregnant tomorrow. And it's been, you know, it's been in I think everyone's journey is different. Everyone's journey is interesting in different and unexpected in its own ways. You know, it's always, I'm sure for anybody filled with a combination of joy, excitement and anxiety. You know, I have my own personal anxieties I'm sure everybody battles with but I happen to have a blood clotting disorder called factor five. So, you know, I think there's always everyone has something that's layered on top of the normal pregnancy anxieties and complications, that's kind of added a little to it. So I've been lucky enough to have a really strong support system and my husband and my family. But obviously, very recently, as we've heard some of the news where we've already been a little just on edge and concerned about the health of myself in our future a little Munchkin. But then to hear some of the news around, the ability to have a support person at the hospital has really kind of hit home because my support person has been my everything. You know, I think we all kind of challenge with our own emotions and feeling prepared and having anxieties and we have a picture in our head and when that picture changes can really kind of turn our world upside down. So excited to kind of have this conversation and see how you know everyone else is feeling and know that you're not alone and those emotions.

Actually, yes, so Hi, I'm Ashley. I'm currently 32 Weeks Pregnant tomorrow. Do with my first child a little boy, we're due may 24. And up until this point, I've had a wonderful pregnancy. It's been easy. It's been low risk. It's just been lovely. My husband and I have been on the same page from day one about the birth that we want We're very naturally inclined people. So we've wanted a very natural birth and a very natural setting. And we've been very confident in ourselves and I've been very confident in my body to be able to do that. And I, up until this point have always looked at, you know, my birth is something that's so exciting, and I've been so excited for it. I haven't been scared or fearful, up until Coronavirus, hit. And now I'm questioning everything. I'm questioning my ability to do it my ability to possibly do it alone. So it's really taken a big toll, especially being kind of late in my pregnancy. I mean, I'm eight months pregnant. Like Natalie, you know, you guys are later on too. So it's hard to think about having to possibly make a switch at this point to get the birth we want. So this has really been an emotionally taxing time for me, and I'm sure for every one or all of you currently planning a hospital birth.

So can you all just look back in the recent weeks and think about the first moment the discussion of Coronavirus came up during prenatal and what you were told and what you've been told since and just where you are right now with notions around your birth plan, Natalie, if you want to start with that, sure. Um, so the first time I'd ever came up, was that a prenatal appointment with my doctor, I am having a hospital birth or have been planning for that. So it changed from having three support people in the, you know, room to then having to and then they said, it's now down to one. And then my doula contacted me because we were having a check in and then she said that there's been a rule that's been implemented. And so she wanted us to follow up with our hospital to see if that rule has changed. So our doula is not allowed. And she said that Be careful. I want you guys to be prepared. Because there might be a chance that your support person might not even be able to be there too. So then that's how that conversation came about. And I've asked my practice and my doctor, you know, specifically, if this is a rule that's in place, and he said, as of right now, it is not in place. But things can change and things are changing very rapidly. So we're kind of at a standstill.

So has it been confirmed? You can have your husband at most, and not the doula is that already confirmed? It's confirmed by him?

Yes. By the doctor. Yes. Okay. And then how are you feeling with that uncertainty right now? The fact that you're the doula you hired cannot be there now. And how are you feeling emotionally around what you've been told so far?

It's been very disruptive because I can't even plan to have my husband there who's my best friend, who's my support person. So you know, that's been really hard, but I mean, other than that, that's that's kind of like the emotional standstill that I'm at right now.

Lexi, do you want to go ahead and tell us what it's been like for you when it first came up for you?

Sure. So a lot of similarities to Natalie, we have also been planning a hospital birth, just because of some of the complications that I have around factor five.

And I think what has been most frustrating for us has been the inconsistency in information. We actually have not been told by anybody except for the news of what is the intention for the local hospital system. You know, we first I haven't seen my doctor in a couple weeks. I'm not scheduled to see them until next week. I have talked to them about just maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout this entire situation. But nothing specific yet to the hospital system. And we first received a text message from our doula who like Natalie, we very much we know that They're always different plans that happen, that will happen we'll have a, b and c. But our plan A has always been to have a doula present in addition to my husband, just knowing that support system will be there. And our doula happened to have one bit of information which was out of date. And it wasn't until we then went on to the hospital website and saw some different information, indicating that neither the door the doula or my husband would be able to be in the room. And it's that feeling that I think anybody can relate to have like that hot sensation that kind of feels like you're about to pass out that just kind of washes over your whole body of Wait a second. I know my body and I know my mind and I know that I have built this team and it is a team around me to help me understand what my stressors are, understand the situation we'll be in and make plans for that. You know, I know that I like quiet and calm and a dark room in order for me to get into a place where I feel safe. And I think every person and every woman going through worse should feel safe. And it was that immediate feeling of we've asked all these questions what I need to feel safe and now the two people who are on my team to make those things happen cannot be there for me.

Does it feel unacceptable to you? to not have?

It's, it's extremely unacceptable? I think this is, you know, some people they plan for a specific time in their lives and some people just happens. You know, this is something my husband and I were intentional of like, this was the right time in our lives, our careers are going the right way. You know, we're only planning on one healthy child knock on wood. And if this is the, this is the one and this is what will remember it feels like you're getting robbed of an experience that it's meant to be a partnership like as much as I am giving birth. This is my team and my team member who was there for me for everything is now not going to present and I will be thinking of all the things that Wrong rather than having someone who's there to be my spokesperson where I can just focus on a healthy delivery and it's it's a shame that someone can experience that it's a shame to put women in a place where they are stressed out and experiencing fear as the main emotion rather than focusing on just being present and and remembering that this is supposed to be a joyful time. And that's a damn shame.

Actually. Yes, so I have been using midwives and planning a birth at a birthing center. The first time this really came up for me was probably at my last appointment, which was about two weeks ago. And they called me the day before and said, just so you know, your husband cannot come with you tomorrow, you have to come alone. So that was the first time where it was like, Whoa, this is real. And my husband has been at every appointment with me for the last 30 weeks. He's just very involved very into it. You know, it's just as much his baby as it is mine. So that was tough. And one of the things funny because one of the reasons I chose midwives was because I had really bad experiences with OBS in the area. And the way they made me feel throughout my pregnancy. I'm kind of like I was just another patient. I wasn't a person, I was a number I was just in and out. And my midwife said, had always made me feel like they knew me they knew my name, they, you know, just made me feel welcome. I always felt at home when I was there. And when I arrived at my appointment, they stopped me right at the door. And they said, You can't come in until we take your temperature. And I get it. I understand it. But for the first time I was like, oh my god. I'm a patient. I'm just another I'm a risk to this facility now. So I had to get my my temperature taken. I couldn't go in the waiting room. Only one patient was allowed in the building at a time and my midwife told me that as of right now, they're still allowing one support person in the room. But if you have a doula you have to choose between your husband or your doula. And, you know, we did not have a doula, but for me, we were having my mom and my sister in the room. And the three of them were my support team. Um, so you know, it, it was devastating, in in a sense, because it took away so much from my mom and my sister who, this is the first grandchild on both sides. So, of course, my mom wants to be there to see see his birth and of course, my sister wants to be there to to hold my hand or, you know, it did take away a lot but I still felt very confident because I knew my husband could still be there, and he's my number one support. And then just a few days after my appointment is when I started hearing about New York hospital saying nobody in the room and now today was the first time I heard From Lexi, that Connecticut is also following nobody in the room. And that just changes everything. For all of us, I think New York is doing a reversal now because of all the petitions going around, but the uncertainty alone is just so much for anyone to deal with right now. And I think what's so hard about it too, is that you, in the case of each of you, your husbands are your number one support, you're all married, you're all expecting to have them with you. But you already know with certainty, he is no risk to you.

My husband keeps saying, if I have it, you have it. We live together. So me not being in the room, you're still in the room. giving it to who you know, the whoever. He just doesn't understand it. And his biggest response has been we have to move to a home birth we have to move to a home birth.

Which you know, we're considering but it's such a It's so late in the game. It's such a big move. It's I can't even believe we're having This conversation, like, I just can't even believe like this is happening, you know? Like See, in a similar sense, we've been like, Well, we've both been isolated data for four weeks. What's the difference between myself alone to myself and my husband, we we've both been following all of the quarantine procedures and I imagine that the hospitals are able to make the specific changes maybe to the way that we enter or with the way that the maternity ward enters. I think for us, my husband has whether or not it's a true sense, or it's understanding the way that I feel is demonstrated so much confidence and cool and calm and collection under all this, it will be okay. We will figure it out. And, you know, it'll be what it'll be because he knows that at the end of the day, if I start to spiral out to different thought processes, that's not helpful for anybody. So we're trying to stay as rational about it and think about other options and we keep coming back to, it's too late in the game, you know, like, I don't feel in the place where, you know, making a shift so significant to a swing on the other side of the aisle from, you know, a hospital birth to a home birth is so, so much change for me that he has been an incredible support to show like, it'll be okay. And don't you worry about me, we have to just focus on you being in a mental state where you feel like you are protected. And that's a shame that he can't just feel the same anxiety that I'm feeling and I you know, I don't know if he is because he's such a strong human being, but it's just No, it's not fair for him as well.

My husband has been extremely supportive during this whole process. I think he's been my rock through everything. he is a very anxious person. So it does he does vocalize like, how he is nervous about this whole situation, he does tell me that he's nervous, but then he realizes he needs to kind of breathe, take a step back and be, you know, the support person for me because I need to keep my, you know, stress levels down, you know, and just remain positive and healthy for the baby. Um, but we have been quarantined together for as long as I can remember because we both work from home so we don't go anywhere we, you know, we're always together. So he can't imagine not being there and neither can I. I can't imagine him not being there either. For this birth, if our hospital decides to say, you can't have a support person, so it's, you know, just the idea of not knowing what to plan for that has been so stress inducing because I am a planner I strategically chose my doctor I saw lots of different Oh bees. You know, I chose my classes. I chose my doula after interviewing a few. And now not knowing what's going to happen. It's just, it's just out of my control. And it's really difficult for me to wrap my head around. But he's been, he's been hanging in there, he's been staying positive, but he does vocalize that he does get a little anxious and nervous about this whole situation. Isn't it rather ironic, though, that you go to your doctor for so many months, and every single time you go and you get your blood pressure checked in every time they're talking about every blog you read is about making sure that you are not stressed for the health of the baby. And all of this is about health outcomes. That's what our doctors are there for. That's what should be focused on when you are giving birth is the health outcome of both the mother and the baby and the impact of stress on that and then a decision like this which is completely just The antithesis of that. What do we think? What's going to be the impact of the health outcome on the mother and the baby when they are stressed like this versus if you have a plus one who has been important team with you for the last six weeks? I just I find that rather ironic.

The other thing that feels ironic Lexi is that in theory, I suppose you the husbands or the birth partners would not be permitted in the room for the sake of the staffs health and wellness, which we all understand completely frustrating for you, if you believe him to be no risk and all of that, but the real irony is that what's really happening in this scenario is we're taking these healthy women, all of you and putting you among unhealthy people, and I don't see the discussion around that at all. So Trisha, do you have any comments or thoughts on that?

Yes, so I would like to speak to both sides of the country. CERN's concern from the hospital and the hospital staff and the concern from the mother's perspective and the birthing woman and her family. I absolutely believe that no woman should give half to give birth alone. And the hospital's perspective is that they in this mode of social distancing, they believe that it is important to reduce the exposure not only to you, but to your baby to the hospital staff. Obviously, as you guys mentioned, you live with your spouses, so the risk of your spouse infecting you or infecting your baby is very, very small. But from the hospital's perspective, it's just another stranger that they don't know where they've been, who they've been in contact with who they're going to potentially expose in the hospital. The other issue, a lot of this, I believe, comes from the fact that they're very short on personal for personal protective equipment, the known as PP and everybody needs to be protected with masks and gloves and gowns, and they have this massive shortage of this going on. So eliminating somebody from the birth space is helpful for them to preserve that. equipment. I'm not saying this is justified or right, I'm just saying this is a lot of the rationale. So one of the factors that hospitals are maybe not taking into consideration enough or haven't taken into consideration enough or maybe our are now hopefully considering is that the there are major benefits to mothers having continuous labor support. We know that continuous labor support for women reduces negative birth outcomes. It reduces the rates of sectarian section. It reduces the rates of epidural use, it reduces the risk of postpartum mood disorders. it shortens the length of labor, it increases maternal satisfaction with birth experience. So while hospitals are working to protect hospital staff and protect equipment, which is completely understandable, they have to weigh that out with the additional risks that they're taking on by having women birthing alone. I think that's one of the things that adds to the internal conflict that we're hearing messages from internal of I want my person with me, and then we have the external messages of everybody else in which we know are justifiable. And we want to be a part of helping to flatten the curve that we know that this is for our greater good, and I have my own parents who are elderly and would never want anything to happen to them. I know that participant And this in the right way, is valuable for the entire community. But then you just layer that on top of all of the other inconsistency or the uncertainties is now this internal conflict of I want to be there for myself and I want to be there for my community just adds to all of the emotions that I think everyone is probably feeling about that internal conflict is real and understandable. But having that continuous labor support there is also beneficial, it's beneficial to you, it's beneficial to the baby, it's beneficial to the health of everybody giving birth.

So the reason we wanted to have this episode today is that so many of you have been reaching out. Suddenly feeling like things are in turmoil or upheaval, because you're considering birthing elsewhere here in the last inning, so can you talk about that? What does that feel like to be looking elsewhere? What is happening, you know, what's that process been like for you, Natalie? Do you want to start So, you know, when we first got the news that this could actually be a possibility and one that we should, you know, maybe search for a plan B.

We contacted a few different birthing centers for recommendations from different people. And what was so disheartening, and like such a hope killer was a lot of birthing centers. And midwives told me that it's too late in the game for me to switch. So that was really scary because those options immediately went away. So then I had to resort to plan C, to see who else would be available, and then have those conversations and then always know in the back of my mind, they might say you're 38 weeks, almost 39 you can have the baby at any time, so we can't possibly under good conscience take you. So it's been scary. It's been scary, but we're hoping for the best at this point. We're hoping that good news coming And we get to stick with our birthing plan. So are you leaning towards the hospital? Still? Are you reached out to? I know you reached out to Nancy home birth midwife in Boston, who's a close friend of mine? And are you actually considering going to Boston to have a, quote home birth up there now it's a major change. But this is how the couples that I work with do end up birthing with her. That's that's the way it goes. Normally they run out of other options. What's that process like for you? And what if you decided, so no decision has really been made as of yet if we were going to move forward with working with Nancy. We're going to have a conversation later about it to really kind of dive into it and detail it out and see if it was a feasible option for us. But she made it clear that she'd be available and if we wanted to take that trip to Boston, and birth with her we could. I'm a little worried about it because like I said, I like to have a plan. I like to get to know my team. Team. She's seems wonderful and amazing. But again, I don't know her, as well as my, you know, Doctor currently, I don't know her like my doula. And it would just be kind of like a last resort sort of thing. And she made it very clear that if you're going to do a home birth, you shouldn't make this decision out of fear. And I worry that I might be making this decision out of fear.

I know what you're saying is that there's a difference between running towards something because you're inspired and you've always dreamed of having home birth and having a home birth because you feel you've run out of other options. That said, the majority of the couples I know who had a home birth, though I don't think Trisha would say the same because she's known so many more. But for me, it's a few dozen. They did do it because they ran out of options and then they never birthed any other way for the most part.

Yeah, I would. I would agree with you. That many women do end up going to home birth as a result of running out of other options are there or they're uncomfortable with their own There are options and but the vast majority do plan home birth and that is the safest way to do home birth. However, it's while it is late in the game for you, it is still a possibility. And the important thing would be just to commit to that decision sooner than later if that if you are leaning in that direction.

And we are we're discussing it, you know, extensively because I still really want my husband there, my partner there and if there's any chance that our hospital can possibly go the other way and say no support people, the way that it's happened to you know, the other ladies here. I definitely feel like that's a conversation that we need to absolutely have and he will support me with whatever decision that I decide to make because he wants me to be at my most comfortable.

Ashley Do you want to jump in on where you are Yeah, sure. Um, so yeah, like I said, at this point, I can still have my husband in the room, but I do have eight weeks to go. And, of course, my hope is that in eight weeks this will be behind us. And, you know, it won't even be a question of whether he can be there. But we have started to think about home birth. And it's hard because, to me, home birth is like the dream. And it's something that I have considered before but I always imagined it's something I would have planned from the beginning. So to jump now, is a really, really difficult decision to make. Um, you know, I believe it'll be safe and I would be happy to do it. I just always wanted to see how my first birth went before moving to a home birth. I wanted to see how I was physically how I was mentally how my body reacts. To birth, um, and then I always thought in the future, I would probably have home births. I'm assuming all my pregnancies were low risk, but now to think of meeting somebody new and just having such a different plan when I'm so comfortable with my midwives, it's really scary. And it's a really hard decision. I mean, I'm up at night thinking about it, making the jump and I just don't know what to do. I mean, I really do feel stuck. And I know that you know, I've, I've looked online at midwives, home birth midwives. And as soon as you go on to their website, it's immediately you have to contact us now because everyone's contacting us, and that gives me anxiety and you know, so it's just, it's been really hard. But I'd rather have my husband there than not as much as I trust in my current midwives. As much as I trust that they'll make sure I have the birth I want in the birthing center, nobody is as emotionally invested in this birth than my husband. So, you know, I mean, it's just something we were going to keep talking about, keep exploring, and you know, we're gonna have to make that decision.

I would recommend to Ashley if you are strongly considering it, which it sounds like you are, to at least meet with one or two home birth midwives, it really makes a big difference. Once you've had that first consultation and you learn about how how their practice works, and you hear their experience and you have that face to face and you start that, that connection and trust and you start building that relationship. You don't have to decide that you're going to do it, but if it's even on the table for you, it's that would be a good step to take and I think that would help you to rest easier at night and help you to make your decision. Absolutely.

Even if you had a consultation with a home birth midwife and ruled it out

which should absolutely be what happens, but it anyway,

it always serves you to check out any option that you're even a little bit interested in. It's the options that you're not remotely interested in where we wouldn't want to waste the time. But if you're a little curious about a birthing center, a little curious about a home birth, you really you really owe it to yourself with that big goal in mind of wanting to feel at peace with your birth when all of a sudden done. That's all a part of the story of feeling at peace. It's really looking into all the options that you ever considered in your pregnancy. Before you have the baby. Lexi, how about you?

We have kind of gone through the same mental journey I think that Natalie has gone through of starting to reach out to different providers and hearing similar feedback that one it's too late into that the advice that we are jumping out of fear and this is not really something that you want to do, which I think is completely accurate and some thing that we have had to acknowledge in ourselves. I think we are hopeful knowing that, you know, we're do a little later than both Ashley and Natalie not until June that this will all be resolved or maybe Connecticut will have at at a minimum have kind of reversed their ruling or adjusted their ruling in the way that New York has so that all of our can be there, or maybe my husband and my doula would be wonderful. But I think at this point, we've kind of come to the realization that we are and I hate to use this word, but we're resigning to go to the hospital and potentially to be alone. For a variety of reasons. You know, one, I have acknowledged to myself that I don't have the mental capacity to think about this right now. I've been so worried about other things and, you know, maternity leave and getting ready to be out of work for the, you know, the busiest three months of the year for my team. And you know, I've acknowledged it myself, but I don't have the emotional capacity of I'm already upset and anxious every night when I have to give Myself shots or my husband now gives myself gives me the shots every night that, you know, thinking about, well, what happens if I had a home birth and I had a blood clotting issue, I don't really want to go there. And that fear kind of outweighs a little bit of the fear of the other unknown of being by myself. That sadly, I think we would resign to going to the hospital, which is not cool. But I think we're also just hopeful that by June this will be resolved.

Well, you're balancing risks. You're doing what any mature rational person would have to do. None of these options is ideal for anyone.

Really, though, what we always say to every birthing mother is that you should give birth in the place in the location where you feel most safe. And for you, that seems clear. So outside of this very important issue of labor support that's at the forefront of everybody's mind how has just being pregnant during this pandemic. affected you in general? What? What have been your thoughts around? Even just going out and having to do daily, you know, the limited daily functioning of life that we have to do? What does it been like to be more socially isolated, late in pregnancy?

Can you just tell us a little bit about this experience for you?

Um, so I'll speak to two just very recent experiences. One is the physical of I can't necessarily get the nutrition that I know is right for my baby and my body right now. lucky that I got some
avocados the other day. But when you do an order at the grocery store, and you get shorted all the produce, it's a little frustrating, where my husband is now just surviving on Cheetos because he's giving me everything else, Cheetos and nachos. And then secondly, it's again, that internal struggle of feeling like you want to be celebrating right now. And it might not really it isn't necessarily appropriate. You know, I have a great group of incredible girlfriends who wanted to throw a shower and wanted me to send out my Amazon registry. And I said to them, I don't feel comfortable with that. Not because you guys are my best friends and I know you want to celebrate me, but the other day we were talking how several of my friends have been furloughed, and I don't feel comfortable being in the place of saying, You are now concerned about providing for your own family. Please send me a gift for my family. It's just such a like a juxtaposition of I want to celebrate, but I can't. And you know, for some people who've been waiting for their whole lives, that's a shame that they feel a little robbed of that emotion.


And so for me, it's been tough because I've All my life I've, to be honest, have not thought about getting pregnant or anything and when it happened when I met my husband, I knew that I wanted to have a baby with him because It was just he's the person for me. And, you know, you're in your final moments of, I guess what you would call freedom, I guess. So we, you know, not being able to go out and celebrate and enjoy these like last moments without the responsibility of having a baby and a child that you must care for. It's been kind of tough for me personally to kind of accept. And then, you know, it's been hard getting food, the right types of food that I know I should be taking in right now, especially this late in the game, this, especially my third trimester. So you know, getting coconut water has been hard. Just staying healthy has been a little bit more difficult for me.

One of the things that we used to always recommend to women in their last trimester of pregnancy is to ensure that they would go out on a date one night a week with their spouse and I that just dawned on me when you said that that that's not an option. Right now, so we have to be creative and rethink date nights at home or special activities that you know the two of you can do together in this confined way. still try to really embrace those moments because it's true. It is the last couple of weeks that you will have just the two of you.

All right, Ashley. Yeah, I mean I agree with Natalie and Lexi, it's been really difficult in a lot of the same ways the food has been really difficult.

It's it's been just, we can't even go to the grocery store. We can't we've been ordering online and we have to wait a few days to get our food in. Everything has changed and the celebrations have been canceled. I we had a baby shower planned Of course, that my mom and sister were throwing they had to be canceled. We had maternity photos we were going to take tomorrow that had to be canceled. I was doing prenatal massages as a just a way to de stress throughout my pregnancy that had to stop. And it's been really hard to stay positive with all of these negative things happening around us and, you know, you try as much as you can to just remain positive and say, okay, you know, this isn't the journey we expected for our pregnancy, but this is the journey we've been given. And it's okay if we can't have a baby shower, we'll celebrate after the baby's born. And we try to just put as positive spin on it as we possibly can. But when the news is, is constantly in your face every day and when you know you're working from home, suddenly it's just, it's very hard to ignore. And it's just hard to remain positive and confident in yourself.

We also have to think about our circle around us and how they're missing out as well. You know, my in laws My husband's and only child. And this would be their first and maybe only grandchild and I haven't gotten to see them. I've seen them once this entire pregnancy, just because they don't live up, you know, in a vicinity that's close enough to see frequently. And it's a darn shame that they may not be there they might be able to come before, after, during and what that's doing for some of our other family members.

Yeah, we got a question in just yesterday from a mother who was very concerned about what she should do after the baby's born, Should she allow her in laws or her parents to come and see the baby. And that's a real issue that people are having to deal with right now and make that choice that that people may not be allowed to see their brand new baby for a couple of weeks.

And the baby could be a risk to the grandparents really having come from the hospital especially Is that a yes, I think that yeah, it's I mean, it's probably both directions. There's probably more that that's the concern. So are you feeling more vulnerable? Right now? Because of because you're pregnant? And because of the pandemic?

I would say, absolutely. I have felt more vulnerable and more afraid. I mean, a lot of a lot of it is because we just don't know a lot about this virus and the effect it could have on a pregnant woman as opposed to someone who is not pregnant, especially if we have suppressed immune systems, although they're saying, it doesn't seem like it's any worse in pregnant women. We don't know that. It's so early in the virus is so new. So of course, I'm more afraid I'm, you know, I haven't seen my family and in weeks, my mom left food on our front step last weekend, which is just, I mean, it's sad. It's just sad. I I've loved watching my pregnancy through the eyes of my parents, and through the eyes of my father in law, because it's the first grandchild On each side, and we've lost that we don't get to watch it through them anymore. So yeah, it's been, it's been scary being feeling so vulnerable.

I've definitely have been feeling extremely vulnerable. I don't even go to the grocery store anymore, we get it delivered. And if we need something immediately, my husband runs out and gets the food.

And I really, you know, I noticed that when I go out for walks, if somebody even gets remotely, a little bit too close, I kind of take a step back and, you know, try to keep my six feet distance. And, you know, it's hard because my family's in California, and I haven't seen them since last August, and they were planning on coming. And when all this happened, we had to cancel their trips. And, you know, we don't know when our babies are going to be able to meet their grandparents or you know, there are uncles and aunts. So that's been, you know, not knowing that is also really stressful for for me, and I'm sure for these ladies too, and for other moms to be around the world. I wasn't feeling vulnerable until just maybe a few weeks ago, we intended to go down and see my parents down in Virginia, which is just a simple car ride or train ride and just having the thought process of like, what if we get stuck, you know, corn team that a gas station because somebody was identified as sick at the gas station. Now you can't cross state lines? Or what if I was on the Amtrak and I touch something and I now bring it to my mom and my dad. And it wasn't until we started thinking through the practicalities of the day to day that I was like, oh, man, everything that I would do is now a risk to myself, my baby, my husband, my family.

It's a lot to take on for you guys. I really I think since you and I both really feel so much empathy for what you're going through during this time. And this is why we really wanted to hear your voices today. hear it from you.

Absolutely. I mean, I, I can't help but have a much bigger, higher perspective as well. That in the grand scheme, you're all safe, you're all healthy, you're all loved. And if only the world had that for every pregnant woman, your scenario is already like at the at the top of the pyramid, in that respect, as far as you know, the world we live in. I know this is hard. The longer you live, and the older you get, you see, life is full of timing seeming poor and challenges that we usually look back on them as really rich life experiences that have taught us something. And when you're in the middle of it, you're not expected to have that kind of perspective but in my heart I still feel good about all of you, I feel happy for all of you. And I know you really still have everything that you and your babies need. I'm just sorry that you're living in so much uncertainty right now. I know that that's really hard. But we thank you for talking with us about this and giving voice to this because so many women are dealing with it all by themselves. How did it feel just to listen to each other and talk to each other about it right now? Did that give you anything?

It felt amazing because it's, you know, in social distancing and, you know, isolation that we're in right now. It's easy to feel disconnected from people and then not have your community around you. And it's all virtual, you know, but being able to hear these stories makes me feel so much more comforted knowing that we're all in it together. We're in the trenches together. So, you know, we can get through it. We can get through this.

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The more that you guys can communicate with each other and speak to other pregnant women going through the same feelings and experiences the more safe I think you will all feel and the more confident that you will get through this and it will be okay on the other side and you will have beautiful births and you will have beautiful babies and just remembering to that The ability to birth your baby is within you and only you, you have everything you need to do this.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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