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Expecting mothers brace for hospital changes as they prepare to give birth

Posted at 7:20 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 06:45:00-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- For expecting mothers bracing to bring new life into the world during a pandemic, their birth plans are changing rapidly.

Emma Nathe is expecting her second child. She's trying to prepare for the unexpected before her son's labor.

"My husband isn't able to come anymore to the OB office," said Nathe.

That's one of many changes she's experiencing.

"It really seems so up in the air about when this is going to peak. Nobody seems to really know. And then how quickly any of the restrictions are going to be relaxed even when it does die down," said Nathe.

The fear of the unknown is what's most unsettling to many women who are expecting. They're worried their partners won't be allowed to be there when they give birth as hospitals make more restrictions.

"The whole prospect of that makes me pretty angry because I feel like maternal mental health is significant. It should be a significant factor when talking about these decisions," said Nathe.

Right now, hospitals have limited who's allowed inside. Doulas can't be there when women are giving birth.

"We do believe that we shouldn't be considered a visitor. We are an essential part of the birth team," said Registered Nurse and Doula Yamel Belen.

For Nathe, she depended on her doula to be there when she delivers her son.

"It was really helpful to have someone who was experienced in the room with me the whole time kind of helping me and my husband understand everything that was going on," said Nathe.

A doula was a crucial part of her birth plan and mental health.

"I had kind of a hard time after my daughter was born with postpartum depression and anxiety, and some post-traumatic stress that was diagnosed afterwards," said Nathe. "I was really trying to make some choices that would help prevent that."

Yamel says her clients are doing their best to deal with the changes.

"This is an experience you can't get back. For many moms, it's their first baby," said Yamel.

She hopes hospitals will reconsider their stance on allowing doulas to be present during labor.

"As doulas, we want to do the right thing, and we want to make sure that everyone is safe, but we also don't want this right to be taken away from families and for women," said Yamel.

But for now, Yamel is forced to coach her clients virtually.

"We'll be helping them as we were there physically, working through the contractions, or maybe coaching their partner to help them during the contractions," said Yamel.

Since these unprecedented times are very stressful to expecting mothers, Yamel suggests talking about a new plan each time it changes.

"Reworking the plan because planning is power. So yes it looks different. Let's talk about this. Let's talk about how it's going to look, so maybe like ease some of that tension, ease some of that stress. The more you talk about it, the more it's normalizing," said Yamel.