We are all adjusting and coping with change, from our homes, work, the way we connect with loved ones, and even the way we receive health care. While our protocols have changed, one thing remains the same: we are here for you. We’d like to share this personal story from a local mother who recently delivered her child at UVM Medical Center in the hopes her birth story helps you prepare for yours.
When I waddled into the UVM Medical Center with bags in hand, I knew my birth experience would be different than I originally planned, but I was still greeted by a cheerful team that said “Looks like you’re here for Labor & Delivery!” They were welcoming and friendly. My husband was with me and we both had our temperatures taken upon arrival (to ensure we didn’t have a fever) we were given masks, and when we arrived at Labor & Delivery I was asked to be tested for COVID-19. It was my choice, and I said yes, and understood why these precautions and policies were necessary to protect us, our baby and the care team.
Ever since the pandemic began, I have had a lot of ups and downs and mixed emotions. So much of pregnancy is about preparation, and with everything changing so quickly and frequently, it was hard to feel completely ready for the birth of my first child. Thankfully, my doctor was in communication with the UVM Medical Center and was up-to-date with the policies around Labor & Delivery. I learned that the Birthing Center is very separate from the COVID-19 patient areas. Also, I received a call from Labor & Delivery the night before my induction to help me prepare for arrival. They told me which entrance to use, who I am allowed to bring, and explained what to expect. Additionally, the UVM Medical Center hosted a Facebook Live with the Labor & Delivery nurse manager to help families ask questions about what to expect and they shared updates on policy changes – that made me feel really good. I appreciated that they are trying to be creative and reach out to moms in the community by being open and transparent. That gave me confidence that I’m going to be walking into a good situation.
I felt as ready as any woman could be to deliver their first child.
Feeling ready is one thing, feeling emotional is another. While some changes were easier to embrace, it was disappointing to know that my extended family wouldn’t be part of the birth experience due to precautions around COVID-19. My husband and I had hoped our family could join us. Our son is the first grandchild on both sides of our families, and not having them visit was hard. My feelings changed from day to day – from feeling nervous, to excited, to feeling sad, and everything in between. There is something really scary going on in the world, and yet I have been really excited that there was a true miracle coming into my world.
I’m happy to say my son was born and we are healthy, happy and safe. Not being able to have visitors was hard. But, we used Facetime to stay connected. The staff was very aware of that and really empathetic about ensuring we could connect with our loved ones. They even made sure their check-ins and procedures didn’t interfere with our Facetime calls. That’s really thoughtful. They were being extra sensitive and accommodating.
Throughout my delivery and stay at the Birthing Center I felt protected. In fact, I thought that it would feel more obvious that we were in the midst of a global pandemic. Everyone was wearing masks, but it wasn’t overtly obvious that things were drastically different. We really didn’t encounter any other families on the floor and our room was quiet and clean. I felt like I was protected from the virus, and felt safe because everyone was wearing masks. I didn’t feel scared being there.
I want families to know that the hospital staff are there to take care of you and your baby – and they do that simultaneously. I was supported, my husband was supported, and we’re able to go home and continue to care for our baby. It’s evident that care is the frontrunner, first and foremost, not the pandemic.
The hospital has been great at finding the line between being safe and ensuring our health and protection while also being emotionally supportive and comforting. I had an extremely positive experience and I wish you the best of luck in yours.
Megan Gras is a local mother who delivered her first child at UVM Medical Center during the COVID-19 pandemic.