You’re never alone in Labor and Delivery.
Will my partner be with me when I go into labor? Nervous patients ask this question daily. Expectant parents are worried and terrified to hear the answer. After carrying a child for nine months, no woman wants to deliver alone. ZERO moms wrote a birth plan listing “Have my baby in the middle of a pandemic.”
Everyone wants to share the magic of childbirth with the people they love. Who is allowed to come to the birthday party during the pandemic?
Hospitals are adapting to the challenges of COVID-19. The goal is to provide care to the acutely ill, prevent the spread, and keep the hospital workers safe. Hospitals must balance life-and-death. Horrific health news fills our news feeds each day. While important to stay up-to-date, we can not forget the beauty of childbirth.
Coronavirus does not stop pregnancy. Babies still come out. Each new birth represents hope for humanity.
Short-term changes limiting the number of hospital visitors protect moms and newborns. The goal is to promote maternal and infant health. One support person is invited to our birthday parties.
These days, I am struck by the strangeness of walking through the eerily, mostly deserted hospital hallways. Above my masked face, my eyebrows smile at passing colleagues. Many coworkers return a cautious nod through their shrouded faces.
The overall mood is grim and somber.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
And then we enter Labor and Delivery
Labor and delivery is the oasis in the hospital. Our unit is the center of new life and joy. While other units treat the acutely ill fighting at the end of their lives,our floor celebrates new beginnings.
Every few hours, Planet Earth receives a new guest, a new member of humanity. Each birth rejuvenates the fights against the contagion of despair and despondence infecting healthcare workers around the world.
While the ambiance in the hospital is somber, the mood on labor and delivery seems oddly…normal. The doctors, nurses, and midwives wear masks, but we continue to celebrate healthy, normal births on the labor and delivery unit across the country.
The healthcare teams fight off tears watching a new mom hear her baby’s first cry. Nurses giggle as they teach a fearful father to change his first diaper. Lactation specialists empower women to overcome the challenge of breastfeeding.
When the baby is born, fathers and birth partners joyfully cut the cord. We place the newborn skin to skin to facilitate bonding and to help the baby maintain body temperature. Staff members help take family pictures and baby footprints creating keepsakes and lifelong memories.
After each birth, our hospital plays the “Lullaby” song throughout the halls. The song, an audible confirmation of hope, life, and love, contrasts with the tragic reality occurring on the hospital floors above us.
As “Lullaby” fills the air, people stop. Quietly listen. And smile.
Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash
Precautions are in place for a safe delivery
Safety mechanisms are everywhere. While some changes are obvious, other alterations are hidden in the background. Everyone entering the hospital will get screened for COVID-19. All hospital staff and visitors wear masks. Our mask protects you. Your mask protects us.Universal COVID-19 patient testing slowly becomes the new normal in most hospitals. Safety protocols evolve to handle the results. The health team practices and drills various COVID-19 scenarios to make certain all teammates are prepared to expect the unexpected for expecting mothers.
We work hard to create as normal an environment as possible for the safe delivery of your baby.
You are never alone in labor and delivery
Although hospital visitation is limited, you have a huge support team. Doctors, midwives, nurses, surgical technicians, dieticians, housekeepers, pharmacists, unit secretaries, lab technicians, phlebotomists, and your birthing partners are your teammates during labor and delivery.
We are cheering you on to make sure the baby you love arrives safe and sound.
Blog Author: Dr. Jeff Livingston