You probably didn’t anticipate giving birth in the midst of a global health crisis. Right now, you may be feeling anxious about catching the virus, nervous about changes to your birth plan and scared about the possibility of labouring without your birthing partner. All the while, there’s uncertainty about how the situation may develop.
It’s tough, but Siobhan Miller, founder of The Positive Birth Company, says it is still possible to have a positive pregnancy and birth experience amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Often anxiety and panic comes from a period of feeling out of being control, so I try to help women take control of what they can and let go of what they can’t,” she tells HuffPost UK. Here’s how to do it:
Accept the unpredictability of birth
Over a fifth of local midwife-led maternity units had been closed, with more than a third of areas also either stopping or restricting home births, according to the Royal College of Midwives. Those numbers may increase as the NHS shifts from usual protocols in its best attempts to tackle the virus.
Miller says she’s heard from many women who are upset because their birth plans have had to change. But recognising that birth plans are never set in stone may help you accept what is happening.
“I think it’s important to remember that actually, even if this wasn’t going on, there’s a chance that you might not get exactly wanted anyway. There’s lots of variables,” she says.
“You might have been planning a home birth, but even before coronavirus was a thing, there’s always a chance that you wouldn’t be able to have a home birth because the midwife isn’t available, or things might not have progressed in the way that you’d hoped.
“Or you might have your heart set on a birth centre water birth, but then you get to the birth centre and there aren’t any pools available. All of those things can happen on a regular day anyway.”
Trying to have an open mind about how you give birth is key during any pregnancy, but particularly important in this ever-changing situation, she adds.
To reclaim some sense of control, Miller recommends thinking about your preferences for different birth scenarios – a home birth, a water birth, a hospital birth and a caesarian birth – writing these down, then giving the list to your midwife or doctor.
“Having only one plan where you’re mentally thinking ‘I didn’t get what I planned’ or ‘things are going wrong’, all feels very negative,” Miller says. “By writing a list, even though you can’t be certain exactly how things are going to go (and that’s the case whenever), you’ve enabled yourself to have some control over how things might go in each different setting.”
Attend antenatal classes – but get creative before giving birth
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has advised pregnant women to attend antenatal care appointments during the outbreak, but some appointments may now be conducted by telephone or using videoconferencing, so you should consult your midwife about any changes to scheduled sessions.