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A Healthcare Worker’s Open Letter to Expectant Moms: What It’s Really Like on the Delivery Floor

Despite the chaos of COVID-19, women haven’t stopped giving birth. New life enters the world each day, and OB-GYN Dr. Sudhi Trye wants every expectant mother to know what to anticipate. In partnership with Johnson’s Baby — a company that’s been caring for babies for more than 125 years and believes in supporting healthy pregnancies — Dr. Trye shares her experience on the delivery floor amid the global pandemic. Read her honest and open letter to expectant mothers.

Let’s get this out of the way — the pandemic is a separate issue from your having a baby. At the end of the day, we want a healthy mom and a healthy baby. How we get there might not be exactly how you imagined it, but it’s still going to be extraordinary.

When you get to the hospital, expect to have your temperature taken. You’ll be asked screening questions by doctors and nurses wearing masks and protective gear. The process certainly isn’t as personal as it was in the past (I like to hug my patients and can’t right now), but it’s for everyone’s safety. You’ll be taken through security, likely without your partner in the beginning. Though it’s scary to be dropped off at the hospital by your partner, know that you’re not alone. Chances are you’ll be tested for COVID-19, regardless of your symptoms. Once expectant women are admitted [to my hospital], we do a nasopharyngeal swab. It’s a small cotton swab that goes in the nose to the back of the throat. It’s uncomfortable but it’s quick! After the safety precautions are taken, your partner can likely come into the delivery room, barring they have any novel coronavirus symptoms.

I’ve had a lot of moms come in panicking, asking if there are COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Well, of course there are. But we’re testing you and keeping you safe. Regardless of what’s going on in the hospital, the labor and delivery room is still the bubble where everyone is focused on you and your baby. Everyone at the hospital is empathetic, understanding and going the extra mile for you. There’s not an overwhelming sense of doom and death, but a hopeful feeling of bringing new life into the world.

We understand your fears. And we’re here to answer your questions. Some of the most common questions I get are: When can my partner join me? Can my partner stay postpartum? Who will be handling my baby after he/she is born? How soon can I be discharged from the hospital? Things can change by the hour amidst this chaos, but the lines of communication are staying open. And aside from your health and protection, communication is the most important thing. As healthcare workers, we spend a lot of time preparing you for what to expect. We’re doing our best to keep you calm and in the know by updating you every step of the way. If you have a question, just ask. There’s nothing too silly or too small when it comes to the health of you and your baby.

You likely had a birthing plan in place before the world flipped upside down. Be prepared for that plan to be flipped, too. Even during normal times, birth preferences can change at a moment’s notice, so it’s best to be flexible and keep an open mind. Recently, I had a mom come in to deliver her second child. She’d previously had a cesarean section and was planning for the same. But babies have plans of their own. She came in with preterm labor, completely out of the blue, a whole month before her due date. She was scared, and my telling her that she was fully dilated brought on a whole rush of emotions. The baby was coming. Fast-forward just a short while, and she ended up having the most beautiful, unmedicated vaginal birth — completely unexpected in the midst of all this craziness. And yes, her partner was by her side the entire time. Moms, I’m sharing this to illustrate how wonderful your birthing experience can be despite how much is unknown right now. The world is going through a hard time, but there are beautiful things happening in labor and delivery.

It’s frustrating to be having a child in this environment. You pictured your extended family in the waiting room with balloons and onesies that read “I’m new here.” I had five people in the room when I had my first child, so I understand what’s being taken away from you right now. The experience is not what you imagined, but it will still be wonderful. While the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly taking something away from your birthing moment, nothing can truly dim the light of bringing a child into the world.

Johnson’s Baby works to deliver superior and gentle everyday care for happy and healthy children at every stage of life.