How To Create A Birth Plan During Uncertain Times
Changes at doctor’s offices and hospitals are forcing Black moms-to-be to seek alternative ways to welcome their newborns
DeAndra Stevens is expecting her first child this spring. In the past week, more than a dozen packages were shipped to her home. Armed with gloves and hand sanitizer, the 33-year-old Baltimore resident opened each package carefully, and then made her way to the sink to wash her hands. Such is a baby shower in the age of coronavirus. The in-person event had to be canceled, but the gifts help her feel the support of friends and family from afar.
The doctor’s office where Stevens goes for twice-monthly prenatal visits recently barred visitors. The waiting room, usually crowded with family members and small children, will only have patients now. The hospital where she will deliver has announced that birthing people can have only one support person with them. Her original plan was to have her mother and her child’s father with her. She considered a doula as well. But because of the hospital’s new policy, she’s decided her support will be the child’s father.
We have not reached the peak in Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths, so Stevens is aware the policy could change again. “If I can have no one in the delivery room aside from the care team, I’m preparing myself for that,” she says. “My biggest fear has always been having to go it alone.”
Stevens is on blood thinners and is predisposed to blood clots, so her pregnancy is considered high-risk. Her job with an investment firm has been made more stressful by current economic uncertainty. She is one of many pregnant people preparing to bring new life into the world at a moment when nearly everything about our lives has been upended.
She is also Black, and for expectant Black families, this new health crisis is layered on top of an older one. Black women are three to four times more at risk of pregnancy-related deaths than White women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent years, a flood of news coverage has outlined the issues fueling the crisis in Black maternal health. For pregnant people, quarantine and other social distancing measures mean being separated from…