I often ask my childbirth classes how COVID has changed being pregnant for them. What I’m wondering is how their experience of being pregnant has been different for them because of the pandemic. They usually respond that they don’t know any different since they’ve never been pregnant before. 😉 But as we dig deeper, I often hear similar themes in their stories of the good, bad, and ugly of having a baby in a pandemic.
The effects of COVID-19 have been far-reaching. Scientists are just scratching the surface about what this virus is and its impacts. As a childbirth educator, however, I’ve noticed less medical differences and more societal/social changes.
4 Ways Covid Has Changed Being Pregnant – for Worse
If you’re curious about how covid has changed the experience of being pregnant, maybe because you’re thinking about having a baby, or maybe you’re just curious, this post will answer that question. Let’s dive in.
Partners Aren’t Invited
The first thing parents typically talk about when discussing the effects of the pandemic on their pregnancies is how their partners can’t come to certain appointments. Some partners can’t come to any appointments, some come to all, but at this point it’s typically a hybrid – they’re invited to some but not others.
Some partners can come after the first trimester and some are excluded (or included!) from ultrasounds appointments. Whatever flavor the separation, one of the biggest challenges has been partners being excluded.
Obviously, this has been, at minimum, a big disappointment. Can you imagine how difficult it has been for those alone in appointments when things don’t go the way parents expect or when they have to make hard decisions? (Thank goodness women aren’t expected to give birth alone anymore. Remember hearing about that at the beginning of the pandemic? Horrific.)
Some families use FaceTime to stream in, but I hear over and over that it’s just not the same. For some, this separation is a dealbreaker and have even chosen to give birth at a different location in order to have more control. It’s been tough for sure.
Things are Always Changing
Another way Covid has changed being pregnant is that everything is always in flux. At the time of writing this article we are 2+ years into the pandemic and as a collective whole we’ve all experienced this one. Things are a certain way RIGHT NOW, but anything is possible TOMORROW.
What’s changing? The big ones are visitor and masking policies.
Visitor policies matter because they dictate who can be in “the room” at the time of delivery. Can we have a doula? Can my mom come? The answer to these questions can be different when you ask in the second trimester compared to when you ask in the third.
And to make it even more confusing, different practices and hospitals all have different policies – and they’re not always posted on their websites or social media!
The surest way to know of a policy is to call when you’re on your way for an appointment or to have a baby. I wish I was joking! Ok, I’m joking just a little bit, but you get my point.
Less In-Person Childbirth Education
Another thing you’ll notice being pregnant since the pandemic reared its head is that there are generally less in-person classes. I’m talking about childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes, baby-care classes, etc.
Some of these classes are virtual (yay for virtual options!), but the supply and demand for these classes have dipped for sure. Some parents are feeling unsure about meeting in-person and many hospitals feel the same.
This is just a general, all-around bummer. However, if you’re unsure of what classes are being offered in your area make sure to ask a doula. Doulas are like the concierge of birth. They know what’s up and can point you in the right direction.
Hard to Make Mom Friends
I swear, this blog post is not all bad news. But before we get to the good parts of the pandemic, here’s one more bummer. One way the pandemic has negatively impacted pregnancy is that it’s made it very, very difficult to make mom-friends, or parent-friends, for that matter.
Especially if you’re new to the area, the parent/friend scene may seem like a dry and lonely desert. With more and more folks working from home, zooming in to appointments and meetings, there is a lack of connection in a demographic that needs to be plugged in more than ever.
A solution? If you can find one, take a childbirth class – an in-person, longer than three or four week childbirth class if you can find one. It’s like a one stop shop for all the socializing and education you’ve been craving. (Before the last class, be sure to get everyone’s phone numbers!)
3 Ways Covid Has Changed Being Pregnant – For Better
Less Unsolicited Advice
Ok, here’s the good news – there have been good things the pandemic has bestowed upon the pregnant population. Studies show that random strangers in grocery stores hand out 75% less unsolicited advice compared to 2019.
Ha! Just kidding on the studies thing, but this is definitely what parents have been telling me! I ask them what strange or bad advice they’ve been given and I don’t hear many stories. How weirdly wonderful! I guess people at the grocery stores are keeping to themselves these days. (Or we’re all using grocery pick-up and delivery?)
Less Unsolicited Belly Rubs
Since 2019 we have touched each other less. We are not sure if we should hug, shake one another’s hands, fist/elbow bump, or wave. Because of this phenomenon, pregnant people are experiencing less unsolicited belly rubs. I hear NOTHING of strangers touching the belly. Yay?!
Less Postpartum Visitor Drama
When discussing the postpartum experience with my childbirth classes, we talk about protecting the first hour after birth, often referred to as “the Golden Hour”. We also discuss limiting visitors in those first early days so mom and baby can focus on recovery, breastfeeding, sleep, and bonding. But you know what? There’s so much less postpartum visitor drama these days.
I’m not sure if it’s the hospital visitor policies, or people are just used to isolation, or what. But I’ve definitely heard from parents that one of the things they’ve liked about the pandemic is that there are less postpartum visitors. Not a shocker, but less postpartum visitors has facilitated a more peaceful, chill transition to parenthood. Yay for peace and chill!
7 Ways Covid Has Changed Being Pregnant – For Better or Worse
Covid-19 has been a pretty miserable experience for us all, but the pregnant folks have had additional challenges too. (Thank goodness it’s not been all bad, amiright?)
To recap, here are the seven ways covid has changed being pregnant.
- Partners Aren’t Invited
- Things are Always Changing
- Less In-Person Childbirth Education
- Hard to Make Mom Friends
- Less Unsolicited Advice
- Less Unsolicited Belly Rubs
- Less Postpartum Visitor Drama
What do you think? What’s been different for you and your experience of being pregnant in the pandemic? Leave a comment and share your experience. I’d love to hear from you!