It’s the most miraculous and important time in your life. It’s also the scariest, especially now, as the world grapples with a global pandemic and daily life looks less and less like the life we have always known.
You and your family are about to welcome a new little one into an increasingly uncertain world. More likely than not, you’re a swirling contradiction of emotions. Joy mingled with terror. Hope suffused with doubt.
And as the news seems to get progressively stranger each day, those fears and doubts are probably only growing. Now, hospitals are deluged with patients. Doctors and nurses are overwhelmed. And many labor and delivery units are closing their doors even to fathers and families.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended life as we know it. And our modern world has perhaps never been more difficult for mothers and their infants than it is right now. It quite the prospect to bring a fragile new life into the world amid a pandemic.
But you don’t have to feel upended. You and your family aren’t helpless. There are specific things you can do today to protect your health and the health of your family, including your precious new arrival.
It’s always important to plan ahead and have a strategy for any contingency, but that need is even more pressing as the growing pandemic makes everything we once relied on seem that much more uncertain. And prepping in the face of a pandemic is especially important during pregnancy.
As always, knowledge is power, and the first order of business is to familiarize yourself with the stages of pregnancy. That includes learning to distinguish between normal, unusual, and emergency symptoms at each gestational term.
You should also put together an emergency preparedness kit to ensure you have the life-saving essentials on hand should trouble arise. This should include not only a first aid kit, but also a radio; fresh batteries; supplies of food, water, and medication, and a separate, fully-charged cell phone designated for emergency use.
This also means having a plan in the unlikely event that the little one should make their appearance without the aid of a doctor. Armed with this knowledge and planning, you and your partner may decide that a home birth is a safer option.
Your spouse should know the stages of labor and delivery and should be familiar with the emergency care they may need to provide to protect both mama and baby during this dangerous time.
The spouse or caregiver should be prepared to assist the baby through the birth canal, to protect the cord during delivery and safely cut the cord after. They’re also going to need to know how to keep the baby warm and ensure its lungs are clear and the baby is breathing. Mama will also need to be protected, especially in ensuring that her bleeding is under control and, ideally, that the placenta is fully delivered.
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for medical emergencies before, during, and after childbirth, is to know CPR. Children, especially newborns, will require slightly different resuscitative techniques than adults, but it’s vital to learn these skills for the safety not only of mom and baby but for the well-being of the entire family.
After the Baby Comes
Welcoming a new baby is an adjustment for the entire family. Pregnancy and childbirth take an immense physical, emotional, and psychological toll on the mother’s body. And it’s not only unrealistic to expect mom to bounce back right away, it’s also unkind.
Remember that the postpartum period, physiologically and hormonally, should be expected to last at least as long as the pregnancy itself. During this period, new moms can expect to experience everything from feet and hair loss to joint pain and depression.
So while your body, mind, and spirit are recovering from the beautiful but tough ordeal of making another person, it’s imperative that mom practices extreme self-care, and that the family supports her in this. From minding her nutrition to engaging in gentle exercise, such as pilates, Mom’s physical and mental health should be at the top of the family’s priorities list.
It’s also important to remember that this is not about getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight. It’s not about the return of the pre-baby body. It’s about Mom’s health, happiness, and healing.
And another vital element to keep in mind is that Mom has just gone through something during a global pandemic that is itself an ordeal under the best of circumstances. That means she’s going to need even more nurturing, understanding, and support.
It also means you may have to get creative with the caregiving for mother and baby. Telemedicine, rather than in-person office visits, may be the safest thing for Mom and little one until the virus finally abates.
When a new baby comes, it’s not just Mom and baby who are affected. Childbirth has a profound effect on the entire family. If there are older siblings, the adjustment period may be especially long and challenging.
This is especially true as your child is also confronting the effects of the pandemic. That means they’re already facing one of the most confusing and frightening experiences of their lives. Fears for their mom and new little sibling during pregnancy will likely be replaced once the baby comes with the anxieties of dealing with still more changes in a world that’s already been turned upside down and inside out.
This is an excellent opportunity to enlist outside help when you need it, even if that help has to be accessed remotely. School counselors, for instance, are a wonderful resource for supporting both children and families and many can still be accessed through virtual meetings until the corona crisis passes. These professionals are specifically trained to provide not only academic support but also social and familial support in an incredibly turbulent time.
If your child is in high school when the new sibling arrives, then the experience of bringing a newborn into the home may feel particularly disruptive for your teen. Conferring with your child’s counselor can provide you with the insight, resources, and support you need to help your high schooler adjust to the new family dynamic.
Children are life’s greatest gifts. They deserve the healthiest and happiest start that they can possibly have. However, protecting the well-being of baby, mom, and family isn’t always easy, especially in the face of a global pandemic. It takes preparation, planning, and know-how to ensure that Mom, Dad, baby, and siblings are happy and well in body, mind, and spirit as the family makes room for another little miracle to love. In a world gone sick and crazy, this precious little being is the ultimate reminder of the beauty of life and the power of its renewal.
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