The Bright Side of Having a Baby During the Pandemic
When COVID-19 hit early last year, drastic changes had to be made in almost every part of our lives. As someone who has been a Lactation Consultant and Counselor for over 7 years in the inpatient and outpatient settings, it was at first tough to have to explain to very pregnant women that the birth plan they had so carefully planned would have to be altered.
There are a few events in your life that are not repeatable, and having to come to grips with the idea that suddenly the only people allowed at your baby’s birth would be one support person and a certified doula was hard.
This was compounded by the fact that the pandemic hit us so fast, sending all of us reeling and trying to understand what the world was going to look like going forward. It was a confusing time for everyone.
The Lessons 2020 Taught Us
As we’ve moved past the shock and began to reorder our world, we’re coming out of a sort of fog that has us appreciating what 2020 taught us; to take nothing for granted.
I want to share some of the things that I have seen and heard from patients that I have noticed; those bright spots despite restrictions while having a baby during a pandemic.
The First Crucial 48 Hours
We’ve always championed being able to let mom and baby have as much skin to skin contact as possible in the first 48 hours, but that doesn’t always happen because of visitors and other distractions.
By removing the parade of well-meaning visitors, I’ve seen that moms have had the opportunity to focus more on their newborns without feeling like they have to receive friends and family and be camera ready.
That relaxed feeling is absolutely taken in by the newborn and can help with breastfeeding’s vital early days.
While natural, breastfeeding isn't instinctual to all moms, it requires time, patience, and a newborn’s unlimited access to the breast. Some mothers feel entirely comfortable with breastfeeding with visitors in the room but many mothers do not.
Being able to spend those days with minimal invasions and people, a new mom can focus on the baby’s signals which is more likely to lead to breastfeeding success.
Of particular interest are my patients with a history of low milk supply or greater than 10% weight loss in their newborn with a previous delivery. Having had a low milk supply with a previous delivery puts them at risk for recurrence with subsequent deliveries.
I have had several 2nd and 3rd time mothers who have been much more successful with breastfeeding in the last year. I have no medical studies or evidence to support this, but many mothers have attributed their success to a much less stressful postpartum hospital stay, more skin to skin time, and more time to focus on breastfeeding.
The look on the mother’s face when the baby is already gaining weight on day 4, after having had a previous challenging breastfeeding experience, is truly priceless.
Feedback About Family Bonding Time
I inquire about the hospital stay experience during my outpatient visits. I have not heard one single complaint about the visitor restrictions. The overwhelming consensus is that parents appreciated the quiet time to bond as a family with no distractions.
Having given birth pre-Covid, parents with older children especially remark on how wonderful their experience has been.
There will be time to share the joys of a newborn with our family and friends (along with hand sanitizer!) later, and we have technology that allows us to share pictures and videos in the meantime.
It’s another thing that 2020 reminded us of; the more quiet hours that new parents and babies can spend together in the first days after birth are priceless.