What You Need To Know About Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Prepping During COVID-19
At the time of publication, I am almost 18 weeks pregnant. So far, I have been able to avoid hospitals entirely. I am in a situation where I can use a birth center that is very low volume. I work from home and order groceries and other household supplies. I have not been in a grocery or major box store since January 31, 2020.
After reading some articles and joining a few online pregnancy lists, it became apparent that pregnant women are experiencing disturbing things during pregnancy and delivery.
The intent of this article is to inform on what it is like for pregnant women during a pandemic and show what they are doing to cope. The second part concentrates on preparing for a baby during a time period when the supply chain is stressed and shortages are a regular occurrence.
Just so we are clear, I do not profess to know everything about this. I am a beginner that is learning as I go. This is my first pregnancy. There are no other women in my household and I do not have a group of women my own age to gather any knowledge from besides those online.
Here are a few of the other things you have to deal with if pregnant during COVID-19.
Some hospitals take your newborn away if you are COVID positive.
One of the more concerning things I have read is that women have their babies taken from them immediately after birth if the mother happens to test positive for COVID-19. Even if she is asymptomatic and feels fine, she is denied any skin to skin contact and the opportunity to breastfeed in some cases. Critical bonding time is denied entirely.
Only 1 person of your choosing can be present at the birth at a hospital.
While many women don’t necessarily want a crowd, many do like to have their husband or partner in addition to a doula and mother or mother-in-law. They may want to see their other children at some point too!
In short, birth can be a lonely process where women feel like they have little control over any aspect of their health and well being. Add in that most hospitals will hardly let you eat or drink anything during extended labors.
Pregnant women are skipping some care.
Picking and choosing what aspects of medical care you get is really common. A lot of people are skipping routine dental care, for example. When you get pregnant, they recommend scheduling a cleaning. There may be other routine health care depending on the person. The point is that people are saying that the risk of getting sick is enough to keep them from preventative care.
COVID-19 has a high survival rate; however, pregnant women are more likely to get severely ill and go into preterm labor. The long term effects on the baby are not known. Pregnant women are not advised to get a COVID-19 shot either since the vaccine is largely untested on pregnant women.
The mental and emotional well-being of pregnant women and young mothers is on the decline.
I feel like I am doing pretty good through all this, but I was not a social butterfly before all of this. I also have a very supportive husband that can take up any slack on my part. Most people are a heck of a lot more social than I ever was, and they do not react well to isolation.
COVID-19 has made it so that even if you are not concerned about contracting the virus, there is very little that you can go out and do because everything is canceled or shut down.
How Women Are Coping
A hobby that can be done inside is helpful, especially during the winter months. Some craftier types spend time making items for their new baby.
How much exercise is safe during pregnancy varies by the individual. Generally speaking, unless your doctor has told you that you need to avoid some activities, 30 minutes of exercise a day is a good thing. There are many different opinions on how much weight a pregnant woman should lift if it seems like too much, then listen to your body. Your ligaments are really loose, and it is easy to pull a muscle. Most medical resources say 25 lbs or less is a good number to go by for the average woman.
Virtual baby showers are common.
Most people do a baby shower, but with all the lockdowns and people in quarantine, it is challenging to honor that tradition. Some people are throwing virtual showers. Basically, everyone sends gifts to the mother-to-be, and then at a chosen date, everyone joins a virtual video chat like Google Meet or Zoom, and the gifts are opened, and everyone chats.
This app is basically like Facebook for pregnant women and moms. You can find other women in your area to organize play dates or chat, even if you are isolating at home. It also gives them a place to discuss pregnancy symptoms and feelings.
There are plenty of groups on the Peanut App for women that share a particular common interest or want to discuss specific topics. Many women have found long-lasting friendships via this free App.
Play Pods For Kids
Rather than allowing kids to play in large groups, mothers organize pods of limited numbers of kids and parents to get together and let kids play and get valuable social interaction. This also gives them some time to talk to other adults.
Birth centers offer more freedom.
My birth center is taking good precautions. I am very thankful for that. They are also allowing each pregnant woman to have two people plus a doula attend the birth. You are allowed to eat and drink what you want. You can bring music and comforting items. They give you time to have a baby and don’t pressure you to do things you do not want.
If you are not showing COVID-19 symptoms, they will not test you and take your child away based on test results that are not always accurate.
Prepping For Baby
Many mothers are given a ton of used baby items from friends with growing children. During a pandemic, this type of help can be harder to receive. I have to say that Craiglist seems to have a lot of used baby items for sale if you are looking for bargains.
So far, I have kept it pretty basic. It is really easy to buy many cute items and things that you won’t use for long. Everyone says babies grow fast, so I have made an effort to buy various sizes of clothing and diapers to get him through the first 6 months of life. I am sure I will buy a few other clothing items here and there to fill in any gaps, and of course, there is always the need for different sizes of diapers. It is hard to predict how many of each size you are going to need. I just bought a variety of sizes. I am sure I will have to buy a lot more of some of the sizes I have procured.
Here is a shortlist of the types of things that you can feel good about stocking up on throughout your pregnancy as you can afford to.
- Short sleeve and long sleeve Onesies, These can be found for little more than $2 each, which means you can throw one away occasionally if the baby has a major blow out and you don’t want to deal with a full clean up of the results!
- Baby booties and socks. Other cute “crib shoes” are neat for pictures. I splurged on a $10 pair of baby Converse for this purpose. Baby boots will come later!
- Pull-on cotton pants and jeans. I bought these for fall and winter. Our boy is due in July, so his first 3 months of life will be in temps in the 80-90F range outside.
- Diapers in varying sizes. Many of the Mom groups I have read posts in pregnancy sites strongly suggest not overbuying newborn size diapers. Many babies are only able to wear them for a few weeks. Thrive Market has an excellent deal on diapers. You can also stock up by getting trial offers from diaper subscription boxes and canceling. This way, you can try out a lot of brands or at least get some inexpensive diapers.
- Baby Wipes. I have a big tote that I am filling with baby wipes as I can afford to buy them.
- Baby medical equipment, not medications. I bought a nasal aspirator and a no-touch thermometer. I am waiting a little longer on medications because I want to get medicine with a good expiration date.
- Rattles and stuffed animals. We are careful about how many toys we buy. It seems like kids get many toys they don’t use, and we have a small house.
- Books for your nursery library. Matt and I have had a lot of fun looking back on the books we enjoyed as kids. I have utilized used book web stores and new ones as well. eBay is great for finding hard to find titles.
- Accessories. I bought some baby sunglasses and a bush hat to keep him protected. I intend on getting outside and taking walks ASAP after whatever required postpartum recovery time.
- Baby carriers. I splurged and bought 3 carriers because I work at home and intend on carrying him around a lot with me. One is a soft carrier, and the others are for more rugged outdoor use. Babies are messy and having an extra means; it is not a big deal if one gets dirty.
- 2 big packs of cloth diapers and pins. Even if you have no intention of using cloth diapers, I recommend getting a few packs just if something happens and you run out of diapers due to unforeseen events. Cloth diapers are also excellent to use as burp cloths or to clean up messes.
Look out for a good deal on a car seat.
You absolutely have to have a car seat to take your baby home. This is one of the higher cost items on the baby must-have list. Sometimes you can find a bargain on eBay for a new seat. I managed to get a $170 car seat for $95.
Note on Formula: I plan on breastfeeding but I know that sometimes things don’t work out the way we plan. Some women say that you shouldn’t buy formula until the baby arrives and then you should buy several types because babies don’t always tolerate just any formula. During the beginning of the pandemic, I saw a lot of posts from women that could not find the brand of formula their baby needed. It just was not on the shelf. My plan is to buy some can’s of powdered goat’s milk to have on hand just in case I need a little help. I am also going to buy some regular formula too but not a lot of it. There is really no good answer to the formula issue if you are trying to plan ahead.
Don’t forget postpartum supplies and baby medications closer to your due date.
It is easy to get caught up buying fun baby stuff and not think about yourself and the 6 weeks average recovery time that comes after giving birth. We live in uncertain times, and as a prepper, I always feel the need to think about potential product shortages. Sure, you may be able to do without some items if you have to, but why experience the discomfort and hassle if you can avoid it by purchasing things here and there as you can afford them? Here is a shortlist of postpartum supplies.
- Disposable underwear
- Witch Hazel and Cotton Pads
- Sitz Bath and Salts
- Ice packs
Did you have to give birth at a hospital during COVID-19? Do you have anything to add regarding pregnancy and prepping for a baby during a pandemic?