C-19 Updates in our Local Birth & Postpartum Care

Here’s a list of updates for the RGH Labour/Birth Unit and Mother/Baby Units. These are significant. Anything is subject to change. 
 
Some tips for navigating this journey without your extra support people:  
  1. Article: How to Set Up your Birth Room (i.e. What Your Doula Would Normally Do!)
  2. Easing Labour Pain: An online 2-hr class this weekend (Sunday at 1:30) that teaches partners how to provide hands-on birth-support, comfort, and decrease labour pain.
  3. If anyone’s looking for online prenatal classes or virtual hospital tours, check out my site. I teach all the sessions live but online so you can ask questions.

I’ve been keeping in touch with the good people managing the units at RGH. 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐚𝗻 𝘂𝗽𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝐑𝐆𝐇 𝐋𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐫/𝐁𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐡 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐌𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫/𝐁𝐚𝐛𝐲 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐬, 𝐝𝐮𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐂-𝟏𝟗.
Any of these may change.

Highlights & What’s New

◆ The health region is not on the same timeline as the SK gov’t. Restrictions are still in place at health care facilities. Only ONE support person for the entire process, from admission to discharge. i.e. whoever attends the birth also stays in MBU. No swapping. No visitors.

◆ Labouring women do not need to wear a mask IF they pass screening.

◆ Partners/support persons will be provided with a mask at the entry doors. It can only be removed once they’re in their own birth or mother-baby room. (Bring a big paperclip or string if you want to save sore ears.) Check out these tips for saving your ears from mask-pain.

◆ You’ll see staff wearing masks throughout your stay.

◆ There was a news report that pregnant women in SK will undergo testing for C-19, but that has not trickled down to local practice at this time.

◆ Everyone is screened at the doors; ER screening includes temperature. Staff is aware of allergy season and will screen appropriately.

◆ Bring in only what you would normally bring for your birth. Partner will be given a band so they can go to car later for extras and car-seat. You are still allowed to bring your pillow, clothing etc – whatever you need for comfort.

◆ Nitrous-oxide (“laughing”) gas is available for pain management.

◆ If you or baby are at high-risk for birth complications, you may be asked to use an epidural during labour to avoid the need for a general anaesthetic in case of an urgent/stat caesarean. Best to discuss this with your OB ahead of time so you can learn your options and make a plan.

◆ No one in Regina area is renting birth pools. Midwives are not loaning theirs out. If you have your own then waterbirth at home is still an option.

◆ Food outlets in RGH are open for take-out. You may meet someone at the main doors for food delivery.

◆ Breastfeeding is still being supported at RGH.

◆ There are plans and protocols in place so that mother-baby can stay together if mom is at risk or has symptoms of C-19 in the immediate postpartum.

◆ Even though some community restrictions are being lifted, great care should be taken with newborns once the family is home. Physical distancing and being only with members of the same household are still recommended. Anyone who enters the house can bring in pathogens/bugs.

Other things still happening from previous update:

𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞
● Pregnant women attend appointments, diagnostics (ultrasound, lab) solo. Routine appointments might be done over the phone or spaced out. High-risk and special circumstances will still get the extra care they need.
● Midwifery offices are doing the discussion part of the consult by phone and then a quick in-person appointment for the hands-on part. They prefer pregnant patients attend alone but will allow partners. No other family members/friends/support are allowed.
● Anyone under midwifery or GP care who tests positive for C-19 at any point in their pregnant, birth or postpartum will be immediately transferred to OB care.
● If you’re an early-bird you may be asked to wait in your car until your appointment time.

𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞 (𝐋𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐫, 𝐁𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐡)
The previous section, plus:
● Hospital is locked-down. No visitors except for compassionate visits (no, meeting a cute new babe does not count).
● Everyone entering RGH at ER, main entry and 15th St Admitting door will be screened for C-19 risk factors.
● Doors that don’t have an admitting desk are locked tight; security will not let anyone in. That includes the convenient door just below the MBU.
● Galleys (the kitchenettes) in the units are closed to patients/support person. There is no access to the microwaves, kettles, food, water-ice machines. There is no access to the fridges and freezers, except for the small ones in your room.
● Food Services is limiting snack delivery. Bring your own snacks and food! Maybe a little kettle if you like to make hot drinks. There’s a small fridge in every LBU & MBU room.
● Labouring woman and support person are both screened before entering the LBU. If the support person doesn’t pass screening, they will not be allowed in either unit. An alternate may be invited, who must pass screening and plan to stay for the duration of the admission. If the labouring woman doesn’t pass screening then her and her partner will be put into an isolation room for the birth and postpartum, and not allowed to leave the room for any reason. Food will be delivered by RGH food services.
● Early discharge is being offered as an option for those that are healthy and feel comfortable with newborn care. That means to go home a few hours after your birth instead of staying 24-36 hours.
● Women getting a cervidil induction will be monitored and then sent home to wait for labour to start, as per usual, then rescreened at RGH doors and LBU doors upon return.
● People who show up too early in labour will be sent home, as usual, then rescreened at RGH doors and LBU doors upon return.
● There will be no in-hospital water-birth for midwifery clients. The installed bath-tub is available for comfort in labour.
● Support people are allowed at homebirths but must be screened. If anyone in the home (residents or support people) doesn’t pass screening, then the birth must be transferred to RGH. In that case, the one support person rule applies. Home birthers – screen your people before they come over!
● Screening questions:
1. Have you or anyone in your home been out of the country and returned to Canada prior to March 6th?
2. Have you or anyone in your home been out of the country and returned to Canada March 6th or after?
3. Are you, or someone in your home feeling sick? If yes, what are your symptoms?
4. Have you or anyone in your home been directed to self-isolate? If yes, by who? What date?

𝐏𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐮𝐦 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞
Previous 2 sections, plus:
● Families are being asked to stay in their room as much as possible.
● Partners may not visit any other patient areas.
● Food trays are being provided for new moms in the MBU.
● Breastfeeding class in the unit is still running but only birth mother and baby attend (no partners) and only up to 3 participants.
● Midwives and public health nurses are still providing postpartum home-visits. Some may be done by phone or video, depending on your needs.

Doulas and Dads

Although the information here will reassure any partner, this article intentionally addresses dads-to-be. All the quotes, links and videos are made by dads for dads-to-be, about their most common concerns about birth support:  1) Value; why should I pay for a doula if I’m going to be there?  2) Why do we even need a doula; what does she have that I don’t?  3) How will I be included if a doula attends?

Use of Herbs During Pregnancy & Lactation

hers for pregnancy

Herbal medicine is specific category of health-care.  Many herbs, including essential oils, are safe and beneficial during the childbearing year, while others can be dangerous.  Pregnant women must be cautious with any remedies, especially during the first trimester when the fetus is most vulnerable.  There’s a lot of misinformation concerning herbs.  Here are lists of commonly used herbs that are considered safe and unsafe through pregnancy and postpartum.

Exercise During Pregnancy

Birth has been compared to climbing a mountain or completing a marathon.  Being physically fit is an advantage.  Exercise generally improves pregnancy, birth and newborn outcomes for people with normal pregnancies.  There may be a protective factor for gestational diabetes, congenital anomalies, miscarriage, placental problems, intrauterine growth restriction, high blood pressure or fetal death.  Evidence suggests that abnormal heart rates, cord entanglement, and the presence of meconium are significantly reduced.  While there is no increase in premies, there may be fewer postdate gestations.

Avoiding Post-Dates Pregnancy

Post-term or post-date pregnancy is one that exceeds 40-42 weeks gestation, depending where you live.  If a woman is healthy and well nourished then her placenta is likely to thrive and nourish the baby at any gestation.  If there are signs that mother or baby will be healthier with baby Earth-side, then induction is warranted; otherwise it’s a much overused intervention that leads to a Cascade of Intervention.    

Perineum Care

CALENDULA PADS – For swelling, pain, heat.  Make 5-10 pads 6 weeks before due date.
Calendula flowers promote healing and are soothing when applied topically.

  • Calendula Mixture: Make tea from dried calendula leaves (1 full tea ball per cup water steeped for 10 min) or use tincture (20-30 drops per cup water).  Add 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil or some lavender tea to mixture.
  • Partially dip maxi pads – preferably long, organic – in calendula mixture briefly, just to soak top layer. Another option is to use a sprayer to wet the tops.
  • Freeze pads in bowls so they’re curved like the female body. Store in Ziplocs (labeled with your name) in freezer.
  • Bring the pads to birth-place! Hospitals and birthing centers have freezers.
  • Apply immediately after birth.

PERINEUM RINSE
Soothing and healing for swelling, pain, abrasions, tears, bruising.  It’s safe to use with stitches.  This can be prepared during early labor or ahead of time and frozen/refrigerated.

  • Fill a peri- or spray-bottle with calendula mixture (above), a healing solution (below) or warm water.
  • Hospitals will provide a peri-bottle.  A spritz bottle works too.
  • Squirt solution on perineum after every washroom use, shower/bath, or in between if extra relief is needed. Do not rinse solution off.
  • If urination burns then squirt during urination or pee in the bath.
  • Allow the area to dry between applications. Air-time or even a cool blow drier can be helpful.
  • Note: if the rectum is sore or stitched, support the perineum with a cloth during bowel movements (like pooping into a cloth).

SITZ BATH (Not sure why we call it that; it’s just a shallow bath! Full tub works just as well.)

  • Soak your perineum in a bath for 15 minutes, 3 times daily. Shallow water is fine.
  • Add Epsom salt and if you wish to use herbs, add 1-2 cups raw herbs or healing herb tea, ¼ cup tincture, or up to 5 drops of pure essential oil. If you wish to use plain water then spray the healing solution after the bath.
  • Some women like cool water for inflammation while others find warm water soothing. Experiment with temperatures but avoid extremes during the initial postpartum days, and keep the rest of your body warm.
  • Do not sit on a donut-shaped vessel in the bath as it adds pressure.

HEALING HERBS
Calendula is healing, along with other herbs such as comfrey, lavender, witch hazel, tea-tree, yarrow.  Feel free to ask me about the various healing properties of the different herbs.  Nice sitz-bath blends can be purchased – look for an Epsom salts base with herbs or pure essential oils; no fragrance or additives.   There are some nice soothing perineum sprays on the market, such as Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray, sold in Regina at Head-to-Heal Wellness in Cathedral, or Hello Baby in East.

RECOVERY FROM DIFFICULT BIRTH
After a difficult birth follow the above recommendations plus:

  • Keep knees together as much as possible for the first 2 weeks, even while walking
  • Avoid stairs
  • Lift nothing heavier than the baby
  • Allow area to “breath” – air time or cotton panties (no synthetics)
  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time
  • Avoid perfumes, chemicals
  • Avoid straining on the toilet – good nutrition and lots of water, support perineum with a cloth during bowel movements (like pooping into a cloth)
  • See a Physiotherapist who specializes in women’s pelvic floor to heal pelvic floor muscles; recover from perineum tears; avoid or heal incontinence, painful intercourse and pelvic pain
  • Consider seeing a complimentary practitioner who specializes in and is experienced with maternal postpartum recovery, such as a Webster certified chiropractor or an osteopath, to help ensure pelvic organs, bones, ligaments are healthy and aligned.

SPECIAL INFANT CARE FOLLOWING DIFFICULT BIRTH

  • Lots of frontal contact, skin-to-skin if possible; helps establish breastfeeding and is reassuring for baby. Babies who are held feed better, poop and pee more, and are therefore less prone to jaundice and other illnesses.
  • See a complimentary practitioner who specializes in and is very experienced with newborn care, especially if there was any trauma to baby’s head (vacuum, forceps, caesarean, malposition, and/or long “pushing stage”) e.g. chiropractor, cranio-sacral therapist, osteopath.

Inaccurate Reporting on Encapsulation and GBS

The report alleging an infant being infected with Group-B Strep bacteria from placenta capsules is completely inaccurate. In reading through the details (summarized below), you’ll see that it’s impossible that the placenta capsules were the source of infection. This is not a study, but rather a media article.  One story is never a scientific study.  As is often the case in anything birth-related, the headline is misleading.