If you’re giving birth under COVID-19 restrictions, the labour, birth and welcoming your baby may not be how you imagined it. If you’re feeling anxious, taking some time to understand the changes and planning for different possibilities can help you feel more prepared and in control.
Looking after yourself during covid-19
- When you’re feeling anxious and have nowhere to go, it’s tempting to let your routine fly out the window. But having a routine can be a huge help for making you feel like you’re in control. It’s also good for things like your sleep – which makes you less anxious. So try to give yourself a mini-schedule each day.
- Leave the house for some light exercise or fresh air each day.
- Try to eat nutritious meals three times a day and drink plenty of water. Here’s some information about healthy eating during pregnancy.
- Limit the time you spend watching the news and take breaks from social media. Focus on reliable, up-to-date information from trusted sources. The New Zealand Government has a website, Unite against COVID-19, which focuses on what we can all do to help the country recover from COVID-19
- Try not to let the huge amount of advice add to your anxiety. Trust your instincts – māmā, you know what’s best for you and pēpē.
- Find your tribe. Talking to other māmā can really help.
- Up to 1 in 10 women have antenatal depression. Many more than that experience significant anxiety. It doesn’t say anything about what you’ll be like as a māmā, and the sooner you get help, the better. Signs to watch out for can include feeling sad most of the time and not enjoying things you used to. If you think you may be depressed or have anxiety that’s making it hard to cope, talk to someone you trust like a close friend, your midwife, or get free support.
- Remind yourself that we are in the middle of a global pandemic and you can only do your best. It’s OK not to feel OK. We’re in this together.
Preparing for birth
You and your pēpē will still receive the same high quality care and access to services whatever colour of the traffic light system you’re in, but there may be some changes to ensure any risk of spreading COVID-19 is minimised. Your midwife or other care provider can provide you with details about these changes. Here’s how you can prepare:
- Take the time to understand if there are changes to your antenatal, birth and postnatal care. The Ministry of Health website is a good place to start.
- Know what changes you might have to make to your birth plan due to the current situation. Having a stand-in birth partner might be a good idea if your first-choice birth partner is sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Ask your midwife if there is a ‘virtual tour’ available of the hospital or birthing unit you plan to go to. Here is one of Rotorua Hospital.
- Ask your midwife or health care professional if there are antenatal classes being run in person or online.
- Keep doing all your usual healthy pregnancy and early parenthood activities. See the Ministry of Health and SmartStart websites.
- Information from Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā the national Māori Pandemic group about labour, birthing and caring for your newborn pēpi is available here.
Prepare for when baby comes
Plan how you can make life easier when baby comes:
- Ask someone to do your supermarket shopping or order meals online.
- Find out about how support services such as breastfeeding support will be delivered.
- Arrange daily chats with support people or family.
- Ask if friends of whānau have baby supplies they aren’t using any more.
Slow down and sleep
Sleep increases your ability to cope with uncertainty, anxiety and worries. Your most important “job” is to prepare for pēpē. It's OK to leave the housework and take a nap. Getting out into the sunlight helps your body clock “know” when day and night-time are. Try to get at least 20 to 30 minutes out in the sunshine every day.
- Lie on your side when resting or sleeping from 28 weeks
- If you are finding it hard or uncomfortable to sleep on your side, you could try using a pillow down your side, or in between your legs to get into a position that is most comfortable for you.
- If sleeping at night is difficult, try getting some naps in during the day.
- If you can’t sleep, try to take some time just to rest and recharge.
- Try as much as you can to stick to a daily routine. It can help soothe anxiety, and it can help train your brain – telling it that it’s “bed time” now.
Maintaining a healthy pregnancy during covid-19
There are some simple ways to ensure you and your baby are as healthy as you can be during pregnancy and in preparation for birth.
If you suspect you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test to check.
If you are pregnant, contact a midwife or your doctor to start understanding how to take care of yourself and your pēpē during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, following are some key actions you can take to ensure you and your baby are healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Be alcohol and smoke free.
- Care for your mental health and wellbeing.
- Immunise yourself for flu and whooping cough.
- From 28 weeks lie on your side when resting or sleeping.
- Eat healthy nutritious food and drink plenty of water.
- Take the recommended pregnancy supplements
How dads and partners can support hāpu māmā
Dads and partners, this can be a scary time for you too. Be gentle with yourself and take lots of deep breaths. Māmā needs you to be strong, reassuring and calm for her.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you or māmā are not coping. It’s a sign of strength to say you need a hand. Get more information about looking after yourself and how to be a great dad at Great Fathers. There is also free support available if you need it.
How friends and whānau can support māmā during during COVID-19 restrictions
For whānau - māmā, pēpē and partners still need you. You can do things like regularly checking in with them via texts or video chats. Give practical help by doing their supermarket shops and baby supply shopping, or dropping off kai in a safe way that prevents the spread of COVID-19. Even though we’re allowed to visit in the traffic light system, māmā and pāpā may be feeling a bit more protective. So ask them what visiting they feel comfortable with.