Pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding in LOCKDOWN

On Thursday, 26 March, South Africa entered an unprecedented lockdown. That was also the day that I was 37 weeks pregnant. As a Pediatrician I wanted to know all the facts about the Covid-19 virus and how it may affect me and my kids, as a Mom, I just wanted to know how we are going to deliver this baby?! Now, almost 3 weeks later, Keedo International asked me to share my experience with you.

Keedo is a trusted, proudly South African kids clothing brand. They pride themselves in not just providing functional and fashionable clothes that are comfy for your kids, but also in their three foundational pillars: Education, Care and Sustainability. My blog resonates with Educating moms, and Caring for their kids, and that is why I am so excited to collaborate with them!

At 37weeks pregnant I was looking forward to the final preparations for our little princess, and spending some special time with our 2yr old son. I had the normal worries about delivery and how we would adjust as a family of four. I did not expect to have to deal with Covid-19 or a nationwide lockdown! At first I was sad that our daughter will come into a world full of such turmoil, but I quickly realised that maybe she was destined for a moment such as this!

So should you as a pregnant mom be worried? According to the latest research available:

  • Pregnant women have an altered state of immunity and are more likely to get very sick from viral infections such as Influenza (seasonal flu). Luckily it looks like the Covid-19 virus does not affect us as severely. Most pregnant women only get mild symptoms of fever, cough and body aches.
  • It looks like the virus is not transmitted to your unborn baby in utero during the 3rd trimester, the placenta does a great job of keeping the virus out!
  • A C/section does not lower the risk of your baby getting the virus, thus you can continue with the type of delivery you were planning together with your health care provider.

Practical tips for pregnancy in lockdown:

  • Continue with the basic preventative measures such as regular handwashing, wear a mask in public, cough or sneeze in your elbow/ a tissue, stay at home!
  • Get a flu-vaccine! Our flu-season is about to start in SA, and you do not want to worry about one virus just to fall ill from another. The flu-vaccine is always recommended and is safe in pregnancy (please discuss with your health care provider).
  • You might have to go to your sonar/gyne-appointments alone. Think of creative ways to share these special moments with your partner. Video-call / record the sonar on your phone. Have a special “gender-reveal” at home.

Our little princess was born on the 1st of April – I delivered a baby in lockdown! You might have a lot of fears surrounding your delivery, but dear fellow-mama, these babies will have the most amazing stories to tell one day! You might not know it yet, but YOU are STRONG! And you are not alone.

Practical tips for the delivery:

  • Keep yourself informed. Most hospitals do not allow any visitors other than your husband/partner. Some hospitals only allow your husband during labour, some do not allow your husband to attend the C/section. Find out what your specific situation looks like and then discuss the road ahead with your gynaecologist.
  • Be prepared. Pack your hospital bag and then check it and pack again. It will not be so easy to buy/ “just quickly bring” something you forgot.
  • Create a playlist with your power-songs / songs that keep you calm. This will help to take your mind off the contractions / give you some inspiration during labour.
  • Take a water-bottle that the staff can refill for you, labouring and breastfeeding makes you thirsty!!
  • Pack snacks or even meals for your husband. My husband could only enter+leave once a day, so he could not quickly “go home” to eat. The hospital coffee-shops are also closed.
  • Pack extra clothes for your husband.
  • Remember to take some cappuccino sachets / your favourite coffee. According to my husband the hospital-coffee does not qualify as coffee…
  • Find out about a midwife / baby-clinic that does home-visits. It is much better to let someone come to your house to check on you and baby than to go to a clinic during lockdown.

I know this is very scary and overwhelming, but looking on the bright side:

  • Most maternity wards are kept isolated from the rest of the hospital so should be corona-free. You will still get the same good quality care; all the doctors and the nursing staff are dedicated to look after you and your baby.
  • The wards are really quiet and peaceful without all the extra visitors, so you have time to rest and bond with your baby.
  • You and your husband can enjoy the “newborn bubble” without any distractions! Paternal leave has been extended!
  • All newborns should practise “social distancing” in the first few weeks anyway, corona just gave us a strict guideline to follow.
  • You do not have to get all dressed up/clean your house to entertain visitors. Just rest and enjoy your baby.
  • If you have older kids, they will not bring nasty infections from creche/school!

I hope this will help to calm your nerves if you still have to deliver your precious bundle. Most importantly do NOT let this virus steal the absolute wonder and joy that comes with a new baby! Drink in every miraculous moment and every little newborn sound and smell.

I am so thankful for all the bonding-time I have with my baby. It has really helped my breastfeeding journey! Breastfeeding during lockdown is guaranteed to make your life easier. There is no need to rush out to locked-down shops for formula milk and no need to clean and sterilize bottles amidst all the other cleaning that we must do in lockdown. Best of all, breastfeeding is free! According to the latest research there is no evidence of the Covid-19 virus in the breastmilk of mothers who has tested positive. Breastmilk contain many protective factors against viruses, as well as active antibodies against infections. Read more about the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby by clicking on the links.

Dear mom, “We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” Col 1:12 (MSG)

Please share your lockdown-pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding tips and stories with me! It is so encouraging to hear how all you strong mamas are coping!

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