Sitting here as I write this in the third week of lockdown, I am surrounded by my adult family and feeling grateful. However, I know that many pregnant parents-to-be could be feeling anxious. The uncertainty in which we now all find ourselves, leaves me wondering how this is going to affect those soon-to-be parents and the birth of their babies.
Disturbing stories pervade the news. Hospitals and birthing centres now have a limit on how many people can be present at births. The limit currently is set at one support birthing partner. This is at times forcing mothers to choose who they feel will be the best support person. Some are torn between their options.
As a doula, it is heartbreaking. We know from extensive evidence that the amount of emotional quality care received by the mother during labour, birth and the immediate hours afterwards are a vital factor in determining how smoothly the mother’s birth and postpartum recovery goes.
The birth of a baby has a long-lasting impact on the physical and mental health of the mother, baby and the family. It is therefore vital to get it right, even as we face these unprecedented times.
Doulas are going virtual and are still able to help mothers to achieve a place where they are confident and feel that they are able to cope. I feel uncertain as to how this will all look after we come out of lockdown, but do know that there is still a lot of support to be provided out there with a bit of technical savvy and Kiwi ingenuity. Midwives and hospitals are doing an incredible job. Childbirth Educators and Lactation Consultants are available online.
Doulas are still there too, guiding and supporting women to find their inner voices and to help them remain calm, open-minded and confident no matter what their birthing experience looks like now.
We need to support our medical team, as they are under enormous pressure right now.
We need to make sure that our clients are realistic in their wishes and they might have to think: “what is our Plan B?”
I am hopeful that this situation we find ourselves in will empower more women to trust in their bodies and trust in their babies. That there will be more women birthing healthily out of hospitals and in birthing centres and at home, if that is their preference.
Let’s give women the tools to make sure that their experiences in giving birth are joyous and memorable ones. There are going to be magical stories to tell of birthing during lockdown that’s for sure!
The best outcome is for the mother to feel confident in her choices, have a safe birth, and a healthy baby!