Nov. 18, 2022

Giving Birth During a Pandemic

Giving Birth During a Pandemic

This blog post was originally written March 23, 2021


There are a few words that come to mind when I think about being pregnant and giving birth during a pandemic.

Scary. Uncertain. Lonely.

I got pregnant in March of 2020, one week into (what was supposed to only be a two week) quarantine. We had started trying in February, and decided not to delay once the pandemic began. Maybe we were naive in thinking that it would only last a few weeks; maybe we didn't want to put our life on pause for something so uncertain.

After they extended the quarantine indefinitely, a lot of women considered postponing having kids. People struggled financially, and being cooped up with loved ones was challenging at best. Nobody knew what to expect from the future.

I was fortunate that my husband was still working, and working from home. Quarantine for us meant extra family time together, a chance to enjoy some nice weather in the yard, and someone to help look after my toddler when the extreme exhaustion of the first trimester hit.

Toddler girl playing in water during quarantine because of the pandemic.
Baby Bel enjoying some water play during quarantine.

But giving birth during a pandemic means that I went to all of my doctor's appointments alone. I sat by myself awaiting to see our baby on the first ultrasound.

When the second ultrasound showed an anomaly, I walked into Maternal Fetal Medicine by myself, trying to take deep breaths and steady myself, as my stomach anxiously turned in knots. I shared a quick glance with two other women in the waiting room experiencing something similar.

We were in it together, but we were really alone.

No one sat with me, holding my hand and telling me it would be okay. (It was!)

I remember feeling so grateful that this was my second baby, and not my first. I can't imagine all the first-time moms who had to go to the doctor's by themselves, to ultrasound appointments by themselves; who had to hear bad news by themselves.

Canceled birthing classes and hospital tours left first-time moms feeling unprepared and unsure of what to expect. Having done this before made some things a little easier, but it was still so hard.

I was pursuing a VBAC this time around, and was determined to go unmedicated. A long hospital stay after a c-section was not something I desired, as I did not want to potentially be exposed to COVID germs, and as my toddler would not be allowed to visit.

In fact, no one was allowed to visit.

I appreciated this to some extent as we had a lot of visitors with my first, and it felt overwhelming. My husband and I spent quality time together with our new baby without being interrupted by people wanting to hold her. I soaked up the baby snuggles, bonded with her, and adjusted to breastfeeding in comfort. I mentally prepared to introduce her to her big sister and to begin life as a family of four.

But giving birth during a pandemic means that I could not have my mom with me in the delivery room. I was allowed one support person, and that person would be the one visitor I was allowed to have. Forget about a doula if I had one. (Certain hospitals are now permitting doulas in addition to one other person.) I missed having that extra support to cheer me on.

Pandemic Restrictions

The hospital required masks be worn, and a COVID test performed. I wore a mask when I entered the hospital, but because I arrived pushing baby out, they did not conduct my COVID test until after she was born. But no one gave me a hard time in the delivery room when I removed my mask so that I could drink water and breathe freely.

I didn't know this at the time, but my husband was not allowed in right away. They demanded that he wait at the entrance until the Labor and Delivery unit called down for him. I think he might've had a panic attack, worried that he would miss the baby's birth.

The nurses and doctors all wore face shields in addition to masks. Masks were required when anyone entered our room, or when we left it, but alone in our room we didn't have to wear them. The hospital limited visitors to leaving only once a day, but I am not sure how strictly this was enforced. The hallways remained quiet during the day, no family or friends joyfully celebrating new babies.

Aside from this, it didn't feel too different from when I had my first daughter.

My nurses consistently checked on me, and lactation consultants made rounds. The cafeteria served meals at regular intervals. Although we couldn't wander down the hall to get water or juice, the nurses gladly grabbed whatever we needed.


I say that it didn't feel too different, but I did not give birth at the beginning of the pandemic.

During quarantine, especially the first few weeks, partners were not allowed into hospitals. Babies were taken from women who tested positive for COVID. This was not my experience, thankfully. But for many giving birth, it was. 


I succeeded in having a VBAC, and was permitted to leave the following morning, roughly 26 hours after my daughter was born.

But giving birth during a pandemic means that family and friends didn't stop by our house.

My parents and in-laws didn't meet our baby until she was five days old. And then, I hesitated to let anyone hold her. We skipped the Christmas gatherings, and celebrated with immediate family only. Even three months after her birth, the majority of my and my husband's families had not met our baby.

Giving birth during a pandemic means that your baby may not know other adults or children. It means anxiety around others holding your baby, and sadness about things you can't do.

With my first daughter, I attended weekly lactation meetings and got to chat with other moms. We took Mommy & Me yoga, music, gymnastics, and swimming classes. We went to the local playgrounds as often as we could. I remained active socially and enjoyed meeting other moms.

For about a month or so after I gave birth, I struggled emotionally with being so isolated. They closed a lot of places due to spikes in COVID right before the holidays, and it was too cold to have baby girl outside at the playground.

I feel fortunate now that things have started to open up more and the weather has warmed up. We have returned to the trampoline park and indoor play places. We see friends pretty regularly for playground dates and hanging outside.

But I know people who have yet to meet their grandchildren born last year.

People whose babies don't know anyone outside their household. People who, because they work in a hospital, don't regularly see their own parents. It's been a difficult year for many, and having a new baby makes it all the more challenging to know how to handle it.

Yes, being pregnant and giving birth during a pandemic is scary, uncertain and lonely.

I worried about getting sick, and what that might mean for my unborn baby. I worried about my parents. More than that, I worried about the world I was about to bring another child into.

But it's not all doom and gloom. There are a few more words that come to mind when I think about being pregnant and giving birth during a pandemic.

Hope. Change. Blessing.

My daughter brought a lot of light to a dark year. She came at the end of the year (on her due date!), and was the welcome change we needed. She made 2020 worth it. When people talk about how terrible 2020 was and they just want to forget it, I think about my quarantine baby, my pandemic baby, my due date baby, my VBAC baby, and I smile.


Women all over the world became pregnant and gave birth during a pandemic. Mamas, we are strong beyond measure. We are resilient. And when shit hit the fan, we were the ones holding it all together.