The days before I subsequently went into labor for my second child was one of the most frustrating and spectacular moments of my life. I guess the reason for that was because my scheduled c-section did not go as planned. I remembered the day I went for my glucose test, one mom in the waiting area told me : “having a scheduled c-section is like going for a haircut”. Now imagine having a toddler at home and thinking that you have everything planned for birth; ( at 5 am, we will drive my daughter to a family member and then go to the hospital to meet the baby. Oh well, turns out both of my children had their own plans as well (lol). I have to tell you this, sometimes you can never be certain how your baby will enter the world. If you already have a child , it is always best to plan ahead and make arrangements with someone to take care of your little one while in the hospital. We all can agree that the pandemic shifted everything in our life and we are still trying to adjust to these new changes.
Why having a scheduled C-section ?
The biggest reason for having a scheduled c-section is that a mom had one or more c-sections before. It can be for medical reasons or first-time moms if the baby is in a breech position.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends a planned C-Section until you reach 39 weeks gestation. Now let’s outline the benefits of having a planned C-Section:
- You get to pick a date
- You get to avoid labor pain
- You get to make arrangements before giving birth ( from work, for your other children or pets)
- Your recovery may be faster as you get to prepare yourself mentally and physically.
Now, after mentioning all of these great advantages. A scheduled c-section sounds like really going for a haircut. Right?
Well, I would have never imagined that I would give birth to my second baby in those circumstances . Let alone, in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s how it went: I was 38 weeks gestation when I woke up with contractions. So I started drinking water thinking it’s just Braxton Hicks. Then the pain kept on going which prompted me to contact my Dr and explain my symptoms. I was recommended to drink plenty of water and rest. My husband started to time my contractions because my Dr advised me to call again if my contractions are 5-10 minutes apart. After contacting my Dr to inform me that my contractions are getting closer, they advised me to go to the emergency hospital which is 45 minutes away from home. We picked our bags, left the house and took my daughter to her godmother was admitted and was being monitored. My contractions got slower while in the hospital (unbelievable) . My Dr came and explained that my contractions are not strong enough for delivery and he will have to discharge me because my c-section is not scheduled until the following week and due to the fact that I am not 39 weeks he will not be able to do so. And also , because of COVID I can’t stay in the hospital for long since my contractions are not fast enough to avoid being exposed to the virus. So we decided to pick our daughter up from where we left her and go home. We thought maybe it was a false alarm and I will eventually have the baby as scheduled.
And guess what happened as soon as we got home? I was in real labor now!
The pain that I was having could not be compared to the pain I had prior. So at that moment, my contractions kept coming in full waves and I couldn’t even sit let alone stand. Now, remember I said that the hospital was 45 mins away. We need to figure out where we will take our baby girl so we can go to the hospital. I told my husband there is no way we will have time to take her to her godmother. Long story short, we had to ask our neighbor to watch for some hours while my husband made arrangements with his sister to care for my daughter while we went to the hospital.
The 45 minutes drive to the emergency turned into 30 minutes (God bless my dear husband). As soon as we made it back to the hospital, I was placed in a wheelchair; the elevator had to be sanitized and we had to wait some minutes for that. My husband had to have his temperature taken ( we were back to square one).
By the time I was admitted and placed in my designated room, I was 7 cm dilated. I asked for the pain medication and was denied because I was near to give birth. I had 10 nurses and 1 nervous Dr preparing me for the Operational Room. Through the pain, I was asked multiple times to keep my mask on ( how will I be able to breathe?). I had to take the COVID test while my water broke. If you had that test, you know how uncomfortable I was. It took the nurses a while to find my vein to administer the IV. On our way to the OR, Dr asked me:” Your baby is ready to come out, do you want to try and push”?. Hmmm, this sounds great but I started after having a flashback of my first emergency C-section; I answered that I prefer a C-section. Next, I had to get prepared for the c-section procedure. After 45 minutes, my sweet baby was here. We were placed in the recovery room then admitted to a private maternity room. After four hours, Dr came and apologized for discharging me earlier while I was in labor, which I appreciate!
From my experience, I can certainly say that whether you have a birth plan or not, sometimes you may never know how you will give birth. Also, having a great supporting circle is very important. And yes, I could have had a VBAC but with everything that happened so fast I was afraid.
Here are tips on how to prepare yourself for the hospital during this pandemic.
- Always try to be calm and optimistic. Never be idle in making online research from credible medical sites to know how to properly maintain your hygiene and prepare yourself to deliver in the hospital. Succumbing yourself to unnecessary panic will only cause you a lot of bodily distress which is not advisable at all for you and the baby at this point. Make sure to eat well, sleep well, and be around loved ones that are willing to help and care for you, and your kids if you have any before the baby. And most importantly, be hygienic always.
- Avoid unnecessary contact with other people apart from your immediate families like your husband and kids. Also, make sure they do not expose themselves unnecessarily to ensure you and the baby’s safety from possible infection.
- To decrease your risk of acquiring COVID-19 before delivery, it is even encouraged to self-quarantine at home two weeks before the expected delivery date — around 37 to 38 weeks gestation. This means your staying at home will involve avoiding visitors or shopping trips. The latter should be avoided except in extreme situations where there is no helper like a sister or husband. Your presiding caregiver or doctor can provide you with the necessary documentation if you are still working.
- Always endeavor to be in touch with your doctor or physician. It helps a lot like it did in my case. Of course, you’re not the only pregnant woman he or she is presiding over and the hands would be likely tied down with lots of work since the coming of the Covid-19, but always try to be in touch. Every professional and medical detail you can get from your doctor as you prepare for your pregnancy is very important and could be life-saving. Never rely on third party information or hearsays.
- Endeavor to take full note of your pregnancy progress and feelings as you near your due date. Make sure to take note of your appointments and medications and the up to date status of the hospital you would like to use for your delivery. Always be up to date about the CDC’s guidelines on the coronavirus pandemic.
Lastly, if you are expecting or planning to have a baby, I advise you to practice mindfulness, find a doula, and a supportive circle.