To Partners Of Birthing Mothers During COVID-19: You ARE Essential In AND Out Of The Birth Room
If you're reading this, there's a good chance you are expecting a baby soon. If that's the case, CONGRATULATIONS! Seriously. Your life is about to change in all of the best ways possible. You won't even realize a love like this existed. When you hold your child for the first time ever, the multitude of emotions that occur in one single instant, could change the person you are forever. Daddy. Hero. Parent. Protector. Teacher. Chef. Storyteller. Whichever title gets added to your credentials, you got this!
But...it's no secret we are living in challenging times. Families just like yours are losing income, small businesses don't know if they will recover, elderly people are lonelier than ever at the end of their lives, and for you...expecting parents and new mothers everywhere are bringing life forth in isolation like we haven't in decades. But there is hope. Stay with me.
Mothers and parents everywhere are finding out in their final weeks of pregnancy you may not be allowed in to see the birth of your child. I cannot imagine. As a Labor Doula and Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, I am currently surrounded by the reality of how devastating this is to you and families everywhere. From the moment you heard your baby's heartbeat, there's a good chance your mind began filling with lists. Lists of things to complete, to buy, and things to plan. I know you may be having a hard time with feeling successful at protecting your partner through this uncertainty, but there are a few things you should know.
SHE HAS DOUBTS AND MAY BE HIDING THEM
If your partner is due to give birth soon and has just found out her envisioned support team will not be allowed, there's a good chance she's doubting her entire birth plan. You see, from the day she began picturing this birth in her mind, you were always right there. There's also a good chance you are much more aware of her own strength and abilities than she is. We are good at that- us women- doubting our own strength based on zero evidence of our judgements against ourselves. So here's where you come in. It's okay to be disappointed and just as devastated as she may be. I would question you if you weren't feeling some kind of way about it. When is the last time you heard a buddy of yours not be allowed in his partner's birth room? In the 50s...sure, but not in modern times. These are uncharted waters for us. But here's the thing, every time you hold her and tell her how capable, strong and supported she is, you plant a little seed of strength in her that she will carry into the delivery room with her. I promise, it can't hurt.
SHE IS GRIEVING THIS EXPERIENCE WITH YOU
It's okay to show your emotional side during this process. If you live in a state or community where hospitals and birth centers are still allowing one support person, chances are...you are it. Each and every family dynamic is unique so I won't pretend that's the case each time. However, if that's you and you are both going through the uncertainty of knowing who will be physically supporting the mother-to-be in person, it's okay to not be okay. Being vulnerable through that won't make her nerves higher. In fact, she may feel even more safe and secure knowing you are truly both in this together. The situation mothers are being faced with is awful. I’m in no way suggesting that mothers birthing without chosen support is a good idea for mental health, fear and anxiety, BUT it’s the situation we’re in right now so let’s get creative!
YOU ARE NO LESS OF A PARENT TO YOUR BABY
While this may feel like an odd thing to say, the concern may still be valid for some parents. Hear me. For centuries, mothers and women were the only participants in the birth room. I know that in modern times, it may feel like more of a loss, but the second you hold your baby, you will only be thinking of them. I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m supporting the decisions to make women birth without chosen support. It’s sucks. It makes my heart break thinking about it. But I do understand it in current situations and I know that women are so much stronger and capable than sometimes, we ourselves give us credit for. Just know, you have you and your baby's entire life ahead, and a few hours in the beginning will feel like seconds. Just imagine all of the other firsts you will get to be a part of. First smiles, rolls, foods and steps. All of those things are just waiting for you. You are an amazing parent.
PROTECTING AND PROVIDING HER NEEDS
If you thought this point would give you a fool proof way for your partner to feel loved, supported, and understood by you, I make no promises. But what I can tell you is that there is absolutely no need to try and fix this. Unfortunately, these policies are being put in place for your safety, your family's safety and anyone else you may come in contact with. The faster we can all get through this, the sooner we can get back to normal life. For you, that might include taking your baby on their first zoo trip! So...she doesn't need fixing. She needs love and support. That might look like a warm, loving embrace each day with a simple "you're going to rock this". It may be small tasks around the house that lead to a huge impact. She's tired, her feet hurt and her nesting to-do list is probably a page long. Switch the laundry, build the crib, help her make some freezer meals for after baby is home. THAT I can promise will mean SO much to her. Let's take it one step further, help her create a plan for postpartum that will not only make her feel physically and emotionally supported, but allow you to have such a vital role that might even outweigh the loss you feel for not being in the birth room. Part of that planning may include hiring a Postpartum Doula or scheduling moments in the week where you bond with her baby and allow her to indulge in a hot shower and hot meal- uninterrupted.
SHE IS STRONG ENOUGH
Lastly, let's get one thing straight. Women are STRONG AS HELL. Especially your partner. She doesn't need a savior. She needs support and encouragement to find her own voice and speak her wishes, herself. Saying things like “I trust that decision you’re making”, "what do you think honey?" or "what is your gut saying, babe? Let's do that!" That is empowerment, and that is what is going to fuel the way she makes decisions for this birth, the rest of motherhood; and life. Congratulations on this transformational journey and the very vital role you play. You got this!
For more information on Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula or other Certified Infant Care support, and what that might look like for your family, visit our services at theomahababynest.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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