Originally published on the Best Starts for Kids blog.
The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving, and we continue to learn more about this new novel coronavirus, including its impact on pregnant people, childbirth and caring for newborns.
With so much new information available, it can be overwhelming to absorb and understand it all—especially during these extra stressful and constantly changing times.
With the help of Best Starts for Kids’ Prenatal to Five partners at Rainier Valley Midwives and Open Arms Perinatal Services, we’ve gathered the top 10 takeaways for expecting parents to know today as they navigate pregnancy and childbirth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It is normal to feel increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and it can be hard to ask for help. Learn more about stress and coping.
- During the pandemic, it can be instinctive for providers and families to make decisions based on stress and fear—take time to acknowledge the stress and learn about your options and rights which are more important now than ever..
- Exercise and nutrition are very hard to keep up with during the pandemic. Moving your body and nourishing yourself positively support pregnancy, birth, and postpartum health. Ask your midwife or health care provider for help making a plan that works for you.
- Pregnant people might be at increased risk for severe illness and adverse pregnancy outcomes from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people, and people of color are at even higher risk according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- Follow public health’s guidelines for people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to protect you and your baby. Recommendations in phase 2 of King County’s Safe Start, for example, include continuing to stay home as much as possible, practicing social distancing, and wearing a face covering when in public.
- Choose a provider you trust to help you navigate through this time and to share updated accurate information.
- If you don’t have a healthcare provider, contact your nearest community health center or health department.
- Attend all of your prenatal care appointments and let your provider know right away if you don’t feel well.
- Create a birth plan that reflects the realities of giving birth during a pandemic. Be flexible with your plan, as guidance and provider policies change.
- Check the policy at your chosen place of birth on the number of support people and visitors allowed. Rainier Valley Midwives allow support people and a doula at home, and follow birth center/hospital policies when attending births in those facilities.
Learn more about Rainier Valley Midwives and Open Arms Perinatal Services below, in addition to a comprehensive reading and resource list for more information about pregnancy, childbirth and COVID-19.
Best Starts Community Partners:
Rainier Valley Midwives can help you sort through your options for care, find a provider that suits your needs and if you would like to come into care, will surround you with support, education and choices about where and how you want to birth, be it at home, in a birth center, or at the hospital.
Open Arms provides no cost community-based doula support and case management services. They offer lactation support and several programs to support families during pregnancy, birth, and in early parenting.
Virtual Lactation Lounges – Parents and caregivers can drop in during any stage of their lactating journey to ask questions and discuss challenges surrounding feeding. Hosted through Zoom by Open Arms Lactation Support Peer Counselors in partnership with Camie Goldhammer.
Open Arms also offers a regularly updated COVID-19 Resource List with a focus on support and resources for pregnant and parenting people and birth workers.
Books to dig deeper
- Unstuck by James S Gordon teaches coping skills for the stress you have
- Nutrition and pregnancy: Real Food for Pregnancy
- Black, Pregnant and Loving It: The Comprehensive Pregnancy Guide for Today’s Woman of Color
- Birthing from Within: Childbirth preparation
- Homebirth: The Essential Homebirth Guide , co-authored by Jodilyn Owen, co-founder of Rainier Valley Midwives
Social justice and birth
- Battling over Birth: Black Women and the Maternal Healthcare Crises
- Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth
Additional COVID-19 pregnancy and childbirth resources
- CDC COVID-19 and Pregnancy Considerations
- UW Medicine, Actively updated Pregnancy and COVID webpage
- UW Medicine, Interactive Map: COVID-19-Impacts-on-Pregnancy
- Perinatal Support Washington, COVID-19 Resources for Parents
- Seattle’s Child, This Wasn’t My Plan. How Coronavirus is Affecting Pregnancy, Labor, Delivery and New Parenthood.
- Seattle’s Child, Focusing on what they can control: Being pregnant during a pandemic
- Seattle’s Child, Bellevue-couple-navigating-the-coronavirus-pandemic-with-newborn-twins
- Seattle’s Child, Online-resources-for-expectant-and-new-parents-during-coronavirus
- Q13, Pregnant-women-adapt-to-changes-as-they-navigate-a-pandemic
- Geekwire, What is effect of COVID-19 on pregnancy? UW’s Kristina Adams Waldorf wants to deliver answers
Photo credit: Silent Light Studios
Originally published July 14, 2020.