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Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be among the growing number of new parents who are now considering an out of hospital birth.
Are you wondering if you should (or could) give birth outside a hospital?
If you were previously planning a hospital birth, you may be reconsidering that decision right now.
Do you still feel safe with your choice to deliver in a hospital?
Would you feel safer with a home birth or giving birth in a birthing center?
If you are currently pondering these questions right now, you are not alone!
In this post… I am going to help you to decide what might be the best birthing option for YOU during this COVID-19 pandemic.
No… I’m not going to tell you what you should do… or even give you my opinion.
Instead, I want to present your options and help you to think about and process this decision.
It is my goal to help you to figure out what is the BEST birthing decision for you!
*Disclaimer – The information in the post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Please make sure that you talk with your doctor or midwife if you have any questions or concerns during your pregnancy!
The Concerns of Hospital Birth During COVID-19
These are the most common concerns and fears of pregnant women who are currently planning a hospital birth. Can you relate?
- Will I be able to have my partner with me during my labor?
- Can my doula attend the labor and birth?
- Will I be rushed to give birth and be subjected to unnecessary medical interventions?
- Does a hospital birth increase my risk of developing Coronavirus or passing it to my baby?
- What if my baby catches Coronavirus?
- Will I be separated from my baby after birth?
- Will I be allowed to breastfeed my baby?
- What if hospital policies change before I give birth?
- Will I still have a choice in how I labor or birth?
- What about my birth plan?
- Will I be able to have a natural birth?
- Will my hospital have beds available if things get really bad?
- What if my hospital has staffing or supply shortages?
- Will I be alone during my labor?
- Will I be forced to leave the hospital before I am ready?
Facts about COVID-19, Pregnancy and Birth
It’s important that you are getting accurate and up-to-date information about the effects of Coronavirus on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and your newborn.
With so many conflicting news stories, make sure that you are getting evidence-based information from reliable sources.
Check out this post for links to all the latest research-based information.
When a Hospital Birth is Best
Even though birthing in a hospital may seem pretty scary right now, it may still be the safest option for you!
This is particularly true if you are considered to be a high-risk pregnancy. High risk conditions include:
- Placenta Previa
- Breech presentation
- Pregnant with multiples
- Advanced maternal age
- Gestational diabetes
You also need to think long and hard about these emotional or practical considerations:
- If you previously committed to a hospital setting, you may have done so because that is where you felt the safest. Is this still true?
- Where do you think you will feel the safest and most supported during your labor and birth? (Be honest about this one!)
- Are you committed to a natural, low-intervention birth? If you are on the fence or want to keep your options for pain medication open, then a hospital birth may be the best place for you, after all!
- Do you have the right mentality about having a non-medical birth?
- Does the thought of not being in the hospital give you more anxiety or less?
- Will your insurance cover an out of hospital birth? Many do not.
What if you cannot switch your plans for a hospital birth and must labor alone?
The truth is that this just really sucks right now!
It’s okay to admit your fear and disappointment. It’s not easy, but you CAN do this!
In times of fear, famine, war and disaster, people find the strength they need to persevere. Remember that you are STRONG and that your body was made for this!
Tell yourself the truth that you WILL get through this and that everything will be okay.
Focus on your baby. Remember that he or she is the prize and all this is totally worth it!
Lean into your faith and the support of your family and friends. Reach deep inside yourself to find your God-given strength.
Abandon yourself fully to God and you will feel His presence and peace.
At times like this, when we are in tune with our weakness, we can really discover the true strength of God!
Labor at home as long as you can, surrounded by the care and support of your loved ones.
Related: Natural Pregnancy Tips and Hacks
Consider Virtual Doula Support!
Many birth doulas are now offering virtual doula support and it’s probably not too late to find a birth doula for your hospital birth!
Now, more than ever, you really NEED the emotional and educational support that a doula can provide!
Even if your hospital won’t allow a birth doula to be physically present, you won’t need to labor alone.
If you can’t afford to hire a doula, do your homework to find out if your hospital or community has doula programs for low income families.
Many doulas are willing to help women in need right now, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Take an Online Childbirth Class
With many childbirth classes being canceled, it’s very important that you find alternative class options.
Knowledge is power and knowledge of the birthing process will bring you much-needed peace and relief. Childbirth education also helps you gain confidence and trust in your body’s ability to give birth.
What are Your Out of Hospital Birth Options?
So, if you want to look at your out of hospital birthing options right now, you need to realize that these options are only for women who are low-risk and interested in a drug-free, natural birth.
So, what exactly are these options?
Below is quick overview of alternative birthing options in the U.S., but if you’d like a more detailed explanation, you can read this.
Otherwise known as a “planned home birth”, a home birth is a birth that is usually attended by a trained midwife in the comfort of your own home.
It’s important to remember that women have been birthing at home for centuries!
Although not as popular in the United States, home birth is a very popular birthing option in many countries of the world.
It has only been in the last century, that birth in the U.S. has become a medical event.
To learn more about the history of childbirth, watch this amazing FREE online documentary called, The Business of Being Born.
Not only is this movie a great way to educate yourself on the evolution of childbirth in the U.S., but it’s also a very inspirational and empowering film!
In fact, if you are afraid of giving birth, this may just be the confidence-boost that you need right now!
If you are interested in learning more about home birth and how to prepare for a home birth, I recommend this book to get you started!
Is Home Birth Safe?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) hospitals and accredited birth centers are the safest settings for birth.
However, research clearly shows that planned home birth is associated with fewer maternal interventions than planned hospital birth. (source)
Also, there is little evidence to suggest that home birth is more dangerous for mom or baby.
In fact, according to this 2015 report, various studies suggest that maternal outcomes are consistently better for planned home birth, including less interventions and fewer complications.
In addition, most international studies have shown no significant increase in infant or maternal deaths. (source)
You can read the full 2015 report on the safety of hospital birth vs. home birth HERE.
Unfortunately, Midwives are Swamped with Home Birth Requests
As anxiety rises with the spread of COVID-19, the demand for home birth midwives has soared. (source)
But, it’s important to realize that not everyone is well-suited for a home birth. There are many factors to consider when choosing where to labor and give birth.
In addition, it’s important that you are not considering home birth for the wrong reasons.
A New York City Home Birth Collective midwife recently stated: “As somebody whose whole job is to try to help people give birth in the most empowering, autonomous, peaceful, loving way possible, it is legitimately heartbreaking to think about people having to give birth from such a place of fear right now. Fear and panic do not lend themselves to an empowering home birth.”
Free Standing Birth Centers
If you prefer the idea of being in a health care facility that feels more like a home than a hospital, then a birth center may be the best choice for you!
What makes a birthing center appealing to many new parents is that you may have quicker access to medical interventions, should you need them.
In fact, many birth centers are hospital-based with nurse midwives attending, and in some cases, may even have OB-GYN doctors on their staff.
The best news of all, is that birth centers have extremely positive birthing outcomes for both mothers and babies!
You can read more about the evidence of birthing center births here.
Are You a Good Candidate for an Out of Hospital Birth?
After reading this post, are you still feeling like an out of hospital birth might be your best option?
Would you like to take the next step to get ready for a home birth or birth center birth?
Do you still have questions like these:
- How do I find a midwife?
- Is there a birth center in my area?
- How do I get my home ready?
- Where do I begin?
- Does my insurance cover an out of hospital birth?
If so, check out this post which will take you step-by-step though the process of actually making the switch.
How to Give Birth in an Emergency
At the time of this writing, it’s still too soon to know how birth will be impacted in future weeks and months.
While hospitals have pandemic protocols in place and are doing everything within their power to ensure that maternity wards are not affected, there is always the possibility that overcrowding of hospitals will force women to give birth outside of the hospital setting.
Of course, we all hope that it doesn’t come to that, but we simply do not know.
If this makes you nervous, I want to share with you this encouraging article by Kristen at Natural Birth and Baby Care.
She is a childbirth educator and home birthing mama with a wealth of experience and knowledge about natural childbirth and home birth!
If you want to learn from an experienced home-birthing mama about how to stay calm and safely birth your baby at home, she is your teacher.
Her online childbirth course (currently on sale!) will give you your best chance at a safe, empowering and peaceful home birth experience during this crisis.
Not only that, but Kristen will walk alongside you and give you all the information that you need to get ready!
How are You Doing?
I know that this is a scary time to be pregnant. Remember that you are not alone!
Please reach out and leave a comment.
How are you preparing for birth during this crisis?
What is helping you?
What are your biggest struggles right now?