Covid-19/Corona Virus and Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.
As a home birth midwife, living in California, I've been getting a lot of phone calls about home birth since the outbreak started. When the "safer at home" orders were put into place, the phone calls increased. Most people right now are interested in avoiding the hospitals, especially pregnant people and those with newborn babies. This makes a lot of sense, as hospitals have always been places where people go when they are sick. Therefore, they do tend to be hot-spots for germs. I would be incredibly excited to see different buildings for infectious disease care, so healthy pregnant folks do not need to walk through the same lobbies, or breathe the same circulated air coming through the air vents, as sick folks. (This would also be great for other folks who are not contagious but need care, such as trauma victims or especially immune compromised folks, such as people with cancer, etc.). This unfortunately has never been the set-up for hospital care in our country, and during this pandemic it seems highly likely that a lot of people will not seek the care they need because of this set up.
In order to provide information, guidance, and advice from my area of expertise, home birth midwifery, I wanted to share more about the type of care I offer.
To current, potential, and future clients, please read the following:
Midwifery care with an out-of-hospital midwife is very different than the hospital/medical model of care. It involves a horizontal organizational structure that is based on collaborative decision making. There is no "power over" structure, and your midwife will not make decisions for you or tell you what to do. The midwifery model of care supports the idea that you are the specialist when it comes to your body and your baby.
Your midwives provide you with all of the information we can, so you are empowered to make a truly informed choice about your care. But in the end, you are responsible for making the decisions about what is right or wrong for your family. This can be an incredibly powerful experience and is often different from what most people experience in standard OB care, where you're strictly following the orders and suggestions of your doctors. This is why a lot of people choose home birth. However, some folks do not want this responsibility. It's important to consider whether you want this type of autonomy or whether you prefer to have someone else make the decisions regarding your pregnancy and birth experience.
In addition, attempting to have a home birth is not a guarantee that you will not go to the hospital. Home birth is safe for low risk pregnancies when labor and birth proceed normally. Midwives are excellent at monitoring birth and noticing when things are no longer normal. If your pregnancy, labor, or postpartum period becomes higher risk and we cannot remedy that at home, you may need to transfer to a hospital.
Home birth also means that laboring folks do not have access to pharmaceutical pain relief. It involves trust in the birth process, and minimizing interventions to allow the birth process to unfold naturally. If you want an epidural or pain medications, a home-birth is not a good option for you.
The most important thing to keep in mind when considering what birth option is right for you, is answering the question, "Do I WANT to have my baby at home?" As I stated, home birth is a safe alternative to hospital care for low risk pregnant folks who WANT a home birth. While I have been dreaming of a society where home birth is the norm, I want that to be the case because people choose home birth out of a desire for it, rather than a fear of catching COVID-19.
I hope that our current situation brings a greater awareness and appreciation for home birth. Of course, as a home birth advocate, I strongly believe that this is an excellent birthing option that should be available. That being said, I want people to come to the decision have a home birth feeling educated, calm, and certain about their decision. Your birth hormones work best when you feel safe. Please consider that when deciding if birthing at home is the right option for you. Make sure that you fully research and understand your decision before you make it.
If you want more information, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with myself or another home birth midwife. I'm happy to talk to you, answer your questions, help you decide if homebirth is a good option for you, and consider if I am a good fit to be your midwife.