Giving birth during a global pandemic is intimidating, to say the least, and these new circumstances have definitely paved the way for a whole new set of questions for new & expectant mothers. That’s why we at Carry Maternity partnered with Sarah Carvajal from The Mama Coach last week, to answer your most-frequently-asked questions about navigating pregnancy and early motherhood during COVID-19.
As a Registered Nurse and Lactation Counselor based in the GTA, Sarah Carvajal has expert advice and insight that will better prepare you and your family during Coronavirus.
Q: Hearing from hospitals that new parents should be limiting who visits newborns, what is your advice on this? Especially when you have family coming to visit and help at home?
A: These are very different times for families who have just welcomed a baby. We are so used to having a huge village of support, and this village might be much smaller these days. But for good reason. Always remember that this is to protect our most vulnerable and that includes your sweet new babe.
We have opened up social circles here in Ontario, so I would highly advise those in your social circle who plan to support you with baby once they arrive continue to practice good hand hygiene, safe physical distancing and mask use in order to ensure that they decrease their risk of acquiring COVID-19.
Q: Will new moms have to wear a mask in the delivery room during labour?
A: For the protection of your health care team, you will be provided with a mask to wear while you’re in the hospital. Mamas are encouraged to wear the mask if they can tolerate it, but it is understood that this might be hard for some mamas, especially during the pushing stage.
Know that your team will be wearing the whole get up; mask, gloves, goggles and shield, and your support person will likely also be asked to wear a mask.
Another important note is that they are limiting the ins-and-outs of the unit, so make sure you pack some snacks, because a trip to the cafeteria or Tim Horton's may not be as easily accessible.
Q: What does postnatal care look like now and what changes have been made to accommodate the current situation?
A: Typically, moms who give birth in the hospital are seen 6 weeks after the baby is born by their OB. This hasn’t changed, but it’s worth checking in with your OB, as some are okay with you seeing your family physician at that time.
Midwifery care and follow up also hasn’t changed. It’s likely your midwife will still be coming to your home postpartum to do your follow up.
Your baby will still be seen postpartum (usually around day 3, possibly at 1 or 2 weeks of age) by their pediatrician or family MD.
The one thing I must note is that a lot of the Public Health breastfeeding clinics are closed. However, you should still have access to a Lactation Consultant on the postpartum floor, as well as your bedside nurses to help you.
Some clinics offer virtual lactation support, and that includes myself via The Mama Coach. I have not been into any homes yet, but all of my lactation counselling has been shifted to virtual assessments which have been going well.
Q: What tips do you have for first time moms wanting to exclusively breastfeed?
- Educate yourself – take a prenatal breastfeeding course – I offer them! Send me an email or a DM and I can send you more information. Or be sure to do lots of research while ensuring you’re using credible sources.
- Talk to your support team – let your health care team and your village of support at home know about your goals to exclusively breastfeed so they can help support you in achieving them.
- Advocate – ASK FOR HELP! There are tons of people who want to support you, because breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally. Ask your bedside nurse, the hospital lactation consultant, and check to see what clinics you may still have access to (in hospital). Reach out to myself or another lactation counselor if you are struggling once you are home.
- Antenatal Hand Expression – Start collecting colostrum even before your baby arrives! Research shows that this has huge benefits to milk supply and your overall breastfeeding experience. Check out my link here and sign up for a course – http://themamacoach.thinkific.com/courses/antenatal-hand-expression?ref=45af5a
Find Sarah Carvajal’s contact information here.
Q: Is it safer to deliver at home with a midwife vs going to the hospital to reduce the risk of catching COVID?
A: This is definitely a question to discuss with your care team. It really depends on your health history and your current pregnancy. Midwives are amazing, but not all mamas can be cared for by a midwife – so if home birth is something you are considering, it’s worth checking in extensively with your team to ensure that you are correctly prepared.
Q: For moms delivering in the OR, how many people can be expected in the room?
A: It’s common to have lots of people looking after you in the OR if you need a c-section. Your team in the OR will likely be an OB, an anesthesiologist, nurses and scrub nurses. Most hospitals are allowing your support person, but do check in with where you are delivering to see what their policies are about this.
Q: What happens if your baby has to stay in the NICU? Are there rules when parents can visit their babies?
A: This is hospital dependent, so check in with your hospital where you are delivering. Each unit may have their own specific rules/times.
That being said, a lot of them are allowing one parent at a time to be with their babe. It’s important to remember this is to ensure that those who are coming into the unit are properly screened because the NICU population is a vulnerable one that needs to be protected.
More about Sarah Carvajal:
Sarah is a Registered Nurse who specializes in pediatric and maternal health. She is currently practicing as a Public Health Nurse and has her own Private Practice called The Mama Coach. Her passion for all things motherhood was driven by her own experience in becoming a mother. She's a wife and mother to a 2 year old boy and is anticipating the arrival of her daughter come the fall!As a Mama Coach, Sarah helps parents get the support they need at all phases of their parenthood journey - from prenatal education, to lactation and postpartum support to sleep coaching and allergy navigation, she creates customized plans for each family's needs. Check out www.themamacoach.ca/sarah-carvajal and follow her @themamacoach.sarah!
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