Five women, including a surrogate mother and an essential worker, told us about their experiences giving birth during the pandemic. As Danielle says, “How we got here matters much less to me than the fact that WE GOT HERE!”
Whether you’re pregnant now or maybe you, too, have delivered during the pandemic, we hope these stories inspire you to celebrate your strength and resilience and honor your own unique story. Though we’re physically apart, we are never alone.
Here are their brave stories:
Delivered via planned C-section and was readmitted alone 3 days after being discharged
I had a scheduled c section and we had to get tested for Covid beforehand. We weren’t sure if my husband would be allowed in the surgery because the rules were changing almost daily. Once we got into the hospital my husband wasn’t allowed to leave. If he left he wouldn’t be allowed to re enter the hospital and I was on my own. We couldn’t leave the room and they were trying to get people to go home ASAP to avoid unnecessary exposure. Since I had some postpartum complications I ended up staying for 5 days.
I thought the worst was over until I had to be readmitted for the same complications 3 days later. Because of Covid I wasn’t allowed to have my baby or husband there and had to stay alone for 3 more days. They said usually people can walk around, have their babies there all day and family hang out but because of Covid I was forced to be away from my week old baby.
What are a few memories that just really stood out to you? They had different masks for us during different stages of delivery, recovery, all of it. My husband had to wear almost a full hazmat suit during my surgery.
What was something that helped you before, during, or after birth in regards to being pregnant/having a baby during a pandemic? Oils! Lots of oils. I really tried to manifest a positive experience and focus on all the good in the world. My doctor was amazing and made me feel so at ease with the situation.
Advice for another pandemic mama: Just focus on your baby. Don’t let the fear of the pandemic or things going differently affect how perfect and amazing your baby is.
Surrogate – delivered days before the stay at home order was issued
What turned out better than you expected? How loving, embracing and welcoming my intended parent was the entire time from the last month of pregnancy to now where he sends me photos, videos and updates of the baby’s life.
What are a few memories that just really stood out to you? How calm I felt through the 25 hrs of induced labor, thanks to my doula who introduced me to lavender essential oil in a diffuser that ran the entire time til delivery.
What was something that helped you? Diffusing lavender kept me calm along with birthing techniques to soothe the pain with every contraction.
What would you say to another mama, delivering during a pandemic? Stay calm and relax and trust and know you’re in good hands at the hospital.
Danielle, New Jersey
Delivered via unexpected C-section after preeclampsia diagnoses and 35 hours of labor
My pregnancy was near perfect! I always expected that my water would break and we would head to the hospital and Leanna would be born after hours of labor. What actually happened was a lot different than that! Being diagnosed with preeclampsia Friday and induced on Tuesday was a wrench thrown into the plan but still something that I was able to grasp.
Then came an induction that lasted 35 hours, 2 epidurals, 1 balloon in my cervix, tons of heartburn meds, no sleep, and only 5 centimeters of dilation. After 35 hours of trying and trying Leanna’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction and I was physically and mentally exhausted.
I made the decision along with Calvin and my doctor that a c-section was the best route. I couldn’t believe it….a c-section….after all this…am I giving up? The surgery wasn’t at all what I expected, not like what you see on tv or in birth vlogs! My vitals were all over the place and they kept pushing meds over and over again. They pulled Leanna out and we finally saw our baby girl but because of my condition I wasn’t even allowed to have her on my chest. Finally it was all over, Calvin and Leanna went to the recovery room where I met them after I was all stitched up.
Pregnancy was EASY everything else was HARD but I would do it all a million times over again because the end result is a beautiful baby❤️ My family has grown and will continue to grow…the road ahead is beautiful and I am blessed! How we got here matters much less to me than the fact that WE GOT HERE!”
What were your fears before delivering? The amount of people that we would have to turn away from seeing her once she was born. My husband has a huge family and they were all very eager to see her. We didn’t want to insult anyone but on the other hand it’s our little baby we need to protect her ❤️
What turned out better than you expected? Having it be just us throughout labor delivery and postpartum has been a blessing because we are able to build our family foundations and bond without any extra stress if entertaining guests. I love my little family and I am so happy to have all of this time together.
Megan, New York
Homebirth transfer to hospital after 24hrs of active labor at home
I planned to have a homebirth months before we had any idea about the coronavirus or the shut down. It had been my plan that when my time came to be a mama that I wanted to deliver at home. When the coronavirus hit and things started shutting down I felt afraid but also so relieved we were having a homebirth.
I went into labor right on my due date around 2am and was able to labor at home with just my boyfriend for a while before we called my doula and midwife. My doula arrived around 1pm and that was when I remember labor and contractions getting harder. My midwife lived an hour away but was in communication with my doula and would head our way once things started to progress. After my doula was there for only an hour or two my water broke and very shortly after that I let her know that it felt like I needed to push. She quickly called my midwife and told her she needed to come right away.
My midwife and her assistant and my mom all arrived and I was in intense active labor. I labored in the birthing tub in our bedroom for a while. Eventually my midwife had me get out and do all sorts of things like walk around, walk our big flight of stairs, try different positions, it was so hard but so empowering.
Next thing I remember was looking up and out the window and realizing it was dark out and I wondered why my baby wasn’t here yet when they had all acted as though he would be here very quickly when it was still light out. I was so exhausted but continued to give it all I had and more. I pushed and pushed and they even gave me herbs that induced 30 mins of non stop contractions to see if that would work.
At this point, according to my boyfriend, my midwife and doula were giving each other concerned looks. My midwife let me know that we needed to be transferred to the hospital. That it wasn’t an emergency yet but that we didn’t want to wait for it to turn into one, the baby’s heart rate was dropping and we had tried everything…he was stuck. I was devastated. I did not want to go. Especially because in NY at the time, doulas and midwives were not allowed in the hospitals as support people like they normally are because of Covid. Only Dave could come with me.
I was so out of it but they somehow got me into the car and I labored all the way there, 30 min drive. We were met by the Covid tents, they took me right in as my midwife had called with all my info but they kept Dave to screen him. I remember being wheeled down a completely empty hallway and at this time I forgot about Covid and I was afraid. I wondered what hospital I was in and why it was so empty. They gave me an epidural to relax my cervix and hopefully help the baby drop and be able to come.
The next morning I pushed and pushed and finally Acre Lawrence was here, I’ll never forget saying “my baby!” over and over through tears as I pulled him to my chest.
What turned out better than you expected? Two things; that the hospital staff were incredibly respectful and supportive which I feared the opposite about a homebirth transfer *and* how nice it was to not have visitors. I was initially heartbroken that family and close friends couldn’t come to the hospital to visit however I actually loved that we were just in our own bubble just the 3 of us before heading home to real life craziness. It really was so nice.
What would you say to another mama, delivering during a pandemic? That she is so much stronger, braver, and capable than she believes and sees now. There is no better mama for your baby than you!
Planned hospital birth turned to homebirth once pandemic hit
I was an essential worker during the pandemic. We conceived in December 2019, right before it truly hit the US. When it did make its way to the US, that’s when I started to panic. I am a pharmacy technician and worried daily of who I was talking to and wondering if today would be the day I caught Covid while pregnant and not being able to take care of our 2 year old in the process.
I had to see the maternal fetal medicine high risk doctors at the hospital. I was so fearful of having to even be in a hospital at all, and to have to go to these appointments alone was even harder, especially after the death of our first born.
I relied heavily on essential oils and crystals to help ease the anxieties and worries/fears that I had. I was putting on oils daily for emotional support and immunity boosts. I wore my amethyst pendant everyday to help ease my anxieties while working.
For the first time I started to practice meditation to help ease my mind some and work through some of these feelings as they came up.
Due to having a stillbirth in 2017, my husband and I had originally planned on having a hospital birth. We had continued seeing my regular OB and high risk specialists up until I was 34 weeks pregnant and fear of catching COVID and having a hospital birth started to settle in. Possibly not being able to have a birth partner there with me as well started to bother us.
Compared to my other pregnancies, this time around my husband had to miss out on a lot with appointments and ultrasounds, we feared him not being able to be a part of the birth. That’s when we made the decision to have a home birth with a midwife and student midwife present.
It was very hard for me. Having to watch my midwives wear masks as they took care of us. Then being super cautious in our home, so that added a little bit of stressors after birth.
The birth experience turned out better than I thought it would. My midwife did not make it in time before our little man decided to make his grand entrance into this world. I didn’t have to worry about being tested for Covid while in labor or having to transfer to a hospital while in the middle of labor. I got to stay in the comfort of our home and got to have who I wanted in the house with me.
What would you say to another mama, delivering during a pandemic? This pandemic has knocked us all off our feet and made pregnancy/birth experiences hard for the majority of us. Not being able to have our partners with us at appointments, having to do most of it all alone.
My advice is to take it one day at a time. Let yourself feel whatever you are feeling at the time, ride it out. Your feelings are valid! Try your best to enjoy your pregnancy as best you can. You got this, mama!
Thank you so much to Liz, Jessica, Danielle, Megan, and Hayley for sharing their stories, and to our incredible essential workers and healthcare workers, who do so much for us. We are so grateful!