I've been a midwife for 20 years, and a hypnobirthing teacher for over 4 years now, and always there was an onus on supporting families on their pregnancy journey, and helping them prepare for birth and their early days as a parents.
The rules have just changed. COVID-19 is a worry to us all, and so there has be a re-think on how to enable the support for families to be safe first and foremost. For many, antenatal appointments have be reduced, centralised, and some even done over the phone, with only the woman herself attending the face to face appointment - no other children or partners. This is to limit the possible spread of germs by limiting to the actual only people who need to be present, as long as both the woman and the midwife are well themselves. However, this will inevitably impact on the relationships women build with their midwives and the continuity they hope to receive.
Ordinarily women and their birth partners would be offered antenatal classes by the hospital or private classes very much like what I offer, to enable them to have knowledge and skills for birth, but these have either suspended or have gone to on-lines session. Knowledge and skills are important, but also is shared experiences with other mothers-to-be, so social media support groups have increased dramatically as mothers-to-be unite together aware of this extraordinary situation, and they rise up to make the very most of the situation. I always encourage pregnant clients to do a regular pregnancy exercise session like swimming, yoga or pilates, for the exercise benefits but also to build connections, but again, these are stopped or online now. I have incidentally seen this to be ideal for so many women not able to access such groups beforehand! Community midwives will do their very best to help women in their preparation for birth, and now more than ever is a whole host of positive and helpful online sessions for women to do in their own time in their own homes, which gives good choice and again can work in favour of may parents-to-be.
So preparation for birth is absolutely possible and encouraged, and self isolation is certainly an opportune time to take life slower and plan ahead well. What is not helpful is speculation regarding the changes to maternity services at this unpredictable time. Knowledge is power, and midwives will guide women through maternity care as they always have, especially at this time of change.
Birth on the whole is a very normal and safe life event, and should be a day to look forwards to and enjoy, so I suggest to indulge in the variety of online antenatal and parenting session, mix it with a dash of pregnancy exercise at home, and make the most of the time positively!
Kim Crowe, Midwife & Antenatal Educator
Confident Birth Chester at Beehive Healthcare
Watch out for news of Kim's Online Services!