Preparing for birth
If this is your first pregnancy, it’s probably not quite what you were expecting. Having a baby is exciting and scary at the same time. But giving birth during a pandemic is a nerve-racking experience for first-time and seasoned mothers. There are many more what-ifs to consider, for instance:
- What if your husband gets COVID-19, will he be able to attend the birth?
- What if you’re sick with COVID-19, will you be able to breastfeed your baby?
- What if the maternity ward is full, where will you and your baby sleep?
We hope to answer your questions and set your mind at rest. While we can’t predict your birth experience, we can tell you that our team of dedicated doctors, midwives and nursing staff will be on hand to ensure the safety of you and your baby.
Your birth experience at Welwitschia Hospital
At Welwitschia Hospital we recognize the vital role that fathers play during birth. We understand that dads also need time to bond with their baby. So, our approach to “birth during a pandemic” is cautious but inclusive. Here’s what you can expect when giving birth at Welwitschia Hospital:
Can your husband attend prenatal screenings?
Absolutely. This is a chance for dad to see his baby grow and hear its heartbeat. It’s a special moment, and we want you to have it. As a precautionary measure, both you and your partner will have to complete a brief questionnaire before seeing the obstetrician as per the hospital’s Risk Assessment Questionnaire on the website. The list of questions include:
- Have you or anyone in your household been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
- In the last 14 days have you experienced any of the following symptoms: headache, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, a fever, body aches, persistent dry cough?
- Have you travelled outside of the country in the last 14 days?
- Have you or anyone in your household been tested for COVID-19 recently?
Do you need to change your birth plan?
No. Many expecting moms are concerned that natural birth is dangerous during the pandemic. Some believe they should opt for an elective c-section instead. It’s essential that you feel comfortable in whatever decision you make. Welwitschia Hospital is prepared for emergency labours and planned caesareans. No matter what happens, you will still receive world-class care.
Do you need to get tested for COVID-19 before being admitted to the hospital?
Not necessarily. It is up to the attending obstetrician. If you’re not asked to be tested before birth, the nursing staff will perform a quick screening when you arrive at the hospital. This involves answering a questionnaire and having your temperature taken. If we suspect that you may be showing signs or symptoms of infection, you will be admitted to the dedicated COVID section of the Maternity Ward to be swabbed.
What happens if you go into labour early?
Firstly, don’t panic. Focus on breathing and come into the hospital. You’ll be admitted as a regular “Casualty” patient, screened, and then based on your responses you’ll be taken to the Maternity Ward or the dedicated Maternity COVID Ward. Remember, staff do wear PPE, and also rooms are regularly cleaned.
What added precautions is Welwitschia Hospital taking to ensure the safety of labouring moms?
To ensure your safety, the hospital has created a designated Maternity COVID ward accessible from a separate door. All staff are required to wear full PPE. Labouring moms and their partners will be asked to complete a standard questionnaire and have your temperature taken. Every room contains an alcohol spray to clean down surfaces and wipe hands.
To limit the chance of infection, you’ll be asked to remain in your room for the duration of your stay. Should you need assistance, be sure to mask up.
What happens if mom tests positive for COVID-19?
Welwitschia’s obstetric units have procedures in place to look after moms with COVID-19. The hospital has identified two Maternity COVID wards which are entirely separate from the rest of the Maternity Ward. Should you test positive, you will be admitted to the COVID section of the Maternity Ward. Here your obstetrician or the midwife on call will perform a swab.
Access to these wards is through a separate entrance. All medical professionals will be dressed in full PPE. If you suspect you have the virus or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you must immediately speak to your doctor.
Are fathers allowed during birth?
Yes, but he will need to wash his hands thoroughly and wear a face mask at all times.
What if my partner tests positive for COVID-19?
If your partner tests positive for the virus, you will be moved to the COVID Maternity Ward. The father will still be allowed to attend the birth, but after he will be advised to self-isolate.
Are fathers allowed to visit after the birth?
Yes, but he will need to go through the screening process each time he visits. If your partner suspects he has COVID, we ask that he remain at home. This is for the safety of mom, baby, and all others in the maternity ward.
Do you need to wear a mask during the birth?
Yes, you’ll likely have to wear a mask during birth. The attending midwife, nursing sisters, and your obstetrician will also be wearing a mask.
Are there private rooms available or do some have to share rooms?
As a precaution, the hospital has reduced the number of moms allowed in a single room. We try to keep moms in separate private rooms whenever we can; however, if there are many moms, then sharing would be required.
If you have an easy birth, will you be sent home early?
Typically, most moms spend two nights in the hospital and three days, but you may be sent home earlier to continue your recovery if you had an easy labour. For safety reasons, we don’t want to overcrowd the rooms unnecessarily. If the doctor deems you fit and ready to go home, you will be discharged.
Are family and friends allowed to visit?
Apart from your partner, we ask that no other family or friends visit during your stay in the maternity ward. The risk of infection is simply too great. Remember, the health of you and your baby is our priority. Instead, we encourage you to connect with your loved ones virtually. So, don’t forget
After your baby is born, his instinct is to latch. Here’s everything you need to know about breastfeeding during a pandemic.
Skin-to-skin contact is vital.
It’s been known to calm new babies and their moms, so the more time you can give your naked baby against your bare chest, the better. It also helps boost your milk supply, so give it a try as often as you like.
Can you still breastfeed your baby?
Yes. Breastfeeding helps your baby maintain a consistent temperature and is known to reduce infant mortality. While there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through the mother’s milk, the baby can inhale respiratory droplets. As a result, we advise moms to thoroughly wash their hands and wear a face mask during feeding sessions.
Can you breastfeed if you have COVID-19?
Absolutely. The World Health Organization notes that breastfed milk benefits outweigh the risks even if you have COVID-19. As a precaution, make sure to wear a mask and wash your hands with an alcohol spray before handling your baby. You’ll also want to sneeze or cough into a tissue.
If you are worried about giving the virus to your little one, you can express milk. It’s best to use a breast pump. Take care to wash your hands before handling the pump and sterilize the pump after you’ve finished using it. You can boil the bottle, lid, and teat in hot water for five minutes to sterilize it. Wipe down the electric parts with an alcohol spray to sterilize it.
If you choose to bottle feed your baby, what precautions should you take?
If you are bottle-feeding your newborn, you’ll need to sterilize the bottles before giving it to your baby. Boil the bottle lid, bottle and teat in hot water, and wash your hands with an alcohol spray before handling.
To learn more about breastfeeding, read our A-Z guide on breastfeeding.
Going home with your baby
Life as you know it changes once you leave the hospital. You have a precious bundle of joy to look after. And while you may want to get back into your pre-pregnancy clothes, the added weight doesn’t disappear overnight. But don’t become despondent. You’ve created a miracle. Now it’s time to enjoy your baby and give yourself time to heal. Here’s what you need to know for the first few days at home.
Getting collected from the hospital
Again, we take the health of our patients very seriously. To avoid unnecessary exposure to the virus, your partner will be asked to clean his hands with an alcohol spray and wear a mask while in the hospital. Make sure to strap your baby into a car seat and drive carefully.
Accepting visitors in the early days of being home
A new baby is an exciting time. Family and friends would love to visit, but your baby’s immune system is only beginning to develop. It’s vital to limit visitors. If your loved ones absolutely must come to visit, ask them to get tested for the virus. As an added precaution, you should also ask visitors to wash their hands with an alcohol serum and wear a mask. Also, avoid kissing the baby.
To be on the safe side, instead, schedule a WhatsApp or Zoom call.
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you need energy. Make sure to eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetable, grains and fats. Avoid processed sugars and caffeine. Don’t be in a rush to lose your baby fat. It took nine months to grow your little human. The weight will come off in time.
Sleep when your baby sleeps
Don’t fret about housework or dressing up in your Sunday best. Most moms come unstuck when they try to do too much. Your body’s been through a lot, and you need time to heal. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Remember, most babies wake every two to three hours for a feed. Broken sleep can be exhausting. So instead of trying to fit an hour’s exercise in or vacuuming your house, take a nap.
Take care of yourself and trust that we’re here to look after you and your baby. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, contact Welwitschia Hospital. You can call us on +264 64 218 911, email email@example.com or simply contact us here.
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