Getty Images

9 Women On Giving Birth Alone Or Without Their Support Team

Share

As the COVID-19 pandemic crescendos in the United States, pregnant women find themselves facing a level of uncertainty that didn't exist even a few weeks ago. In an attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, a growing number of hospitals, including New York City's New York-Presbyterian and Mount Sinai systems, have banned all visitors from their facilities, including birth partners. This drastic measure (currently being protested by NYC Midwives and others) leaves many pregnant people in a state of confusion, sadness, and fear. For months they've been looking forward to sharing this enormous moment with their loved one and now, amid all the other worry this illness presents, even this happy moment, like so much else, feels like it's been canceled. Even those whose intended hospitals have not implemented this policy yet may find themselves wondering, "What if they do?"

So Romper spoke with nine women who gave birth alone (or alone-ish) to give their advice on coping with a birth that isn't at all what they had been hoping for. Each lacked a key support person they had been expecting — a partner, a midwife, a doctor, and in some cases all of the above. The lesson is that it's hard, it can be scary, but you can get through this.

Tammy

At 38 weeks pregnant, with my husband away on a business trip, I went into labor at home with my 18-month-old and nobody else. After about an hour of chasing my toddler around, I called my stepdad to pick up my son and my stepsister to take me to the hospital. When they checked me I was already at 7 cm so they put me into a labor room.

While I had a short moment that I was upset my husband wasn’t there, I put all my focus into the wonderful worship music I had playing and prayed through the contractions. I labored at the hospital in a bath tub for about an hour and a half before feeling the need to push. I pushed with my own instinct and no coaching. Three big pushes and my baby boy was here. A resident ran in just in time to catch him and my OB arrived about 10 minutes later.

For expecting moms preparing to birth without your partner, I advise you to focus on the strength of your own body, create a birth plan, read Supernatural Childbirth and Ina Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, and look at the positives. I had no distractions and when my husband did get to see me and my baby, we were both glowing and beautiful. I’m forever his "superwoman” for doing it without him.

Jonna

[My husband] was allowed to be there, but it was a long, protracted birth and my son was born not breathing and was whisked off to the NICU. My super-helpful husband had a full panic attack. [My son] wasn't even out of the room when [my husband] bolted and just left me there naked. And then he couldn't get back in because of the flu [outbreak] until the next day, but my midwife had to call the administration and it was a f*cking sh*tshow.

I was so so sad at the time but now I look back on it kind of fondly.

And then because we had been there so long, our child care ran out. So then he had to go home anyway. I was alone for three more days. Literally trapped. No one was allowed back. By then my son was out of the NICU but it didn't matter. It was just the two of us.

[To moms looking at being alone] it's going to suck. But I don't know, I felt like it bonded my baby and me rather intensely. I was so so sad at the time but now I look back on it kind of fondly. My son enjoys hearing how it was just us. "It was just me and you, Mommy. That's why we are such good friends."

Ashley

I chose to have my husband stay home with our firstborn when I had our second [at the hospital] and I loved it. So when I had our third, he stayed home with the older two. And again, a really great experience. I actually hated having him in the room with our first because I was so concerned about pooping, and I was in a lot of discomfort and he wasn't helpful.

I think the best advice and encouragement is to love and feel comfortable and confident with the doctors/midwives. See as many [in your practice] as you can for appointments so you’re familiar with them when it comes to birthing time. I took a quiet bath while in labor at the hospital, scrolled on my phone and listened to music that made me feel happy and calm. I listened to affirmations and reminded myself that the prize was near and a healthy baby was all I needed to focus on. I was the one who cut the cord, and I was able to be truly alone on the outside with the human I grew inside of me for a while.

As women we are capable of so much more, especially in the heat of the moment. Giving birth is such a badass thing and women are strong and, I fully believe, can truly adapt and overcome practically every situation given. The world is hectic and chaotic, and any chance of peace and quiet can be relished if you put yourself in the right headspace.

Bastian

I had an emergency C-section and my spouse didn’t know our son had been born till he came in for visiting hours. I was really anxious knowing it was a possibility, but once it was happening, I was really only focused on my son and handling the basic necessities. I didn’t feel by myself, or really care about anything else outside of our little bubble.

I don’t want to sound trite to anyone. But with kids, there’s always gonna be worry, and magic moments out of nowhere, and you’re gonna be OK.

Terri

My husband was there for my first birth, but died before my second. [That birth] is a black hole of fuzziness.

Words of encouragement are: [your] partner won't be there for the birth, but they will be there thereafter! Also — cell phones and iPads have cameras! They can still "be" there!

Amanda

I started having contractions, but they were very manageable and super irregular. I actually sent my husband to work. I didn't want him staring at me all day waiting for something to happen.

I was tracking my contractions, which were still super irregular, then I had a really, really, really strong contraction and I knew instinctively something had changed. Three minutes later I had another. I went from super irregular to horrendous contractions every three minutes. I called my husband and told him he had to come home. I was alone in the house. I called my mom, who was about five miles from me. I called 911 — the operator was trying to slow labor, but it wasn't happening.

My mom is actually the one who is listed on my daughter's birth certificate as the attending, because she was the only one there. [My husband] had a lot of emotions afterwards. He felt really, really bad for a long time.

[Giving birth without a partner] is not ideal, but at the same time, you can do it. It's OK, and you're going to be OK. You'll have people there to support you even if it's not your partner. The birth is always important, but it becomes part of the story and not the whole story.

Kathy

After I had a not-what-I-wanted birth experience in the hospital with my firstborn, I decided to have a home birth with a midwife for my second. I had false labor every night for a couple of weeks leading up to things. One night things were clearly different so we sent the oldest to her grandfather's for the night. I called the midwife, and as soon as she heard one though she yelled "I'M ON MY WAY" and hung up. Then my water broke.

It was exactly the 'your body knows what it's doing' experience I needed.

It wasn't long before I had a strange out-of-body feeling. As a contraction came on I shuddered and then felt like I was watching myself push while mentally screaming "NO! NOT YET!!" But I couldn't stop. After it was done and I came back into myself I reached down to feel if there was any progress and felt the top of her head. My partner grabbed his phone and called 911. But because he was calling from his cell and we were on the border between two counties, his call got passed to the wrong people. Meanwhile I continued having the out-of-body pushing contractions and by the time he had the right people on the phone, when they asked what the emergency was he said, "My wife just had a baby." He caught her and wrapped her in a towel. And then my house filled with people I had not been expecting. I had planned for a quiet home birth with me, my partner, and the midwife. And now my bedroom was filled with police, firefighters and an EMT.

Shortly after, we were left to enjoy the newborn all to ourselves. All-in-all, as unprepared as we were for how that played out, it was exactly the "your body knows what it's doing" experience I needed.

Teresa

"I had a home birth. My midwife got stuck in traffic. I had my spouse and doula there. She had to coach me to actively stop pushing. It was intense. One thing that got me focused was looking at a doorway and imagining my baby coming through it at a speed we needed. Our bodies are built to do this to the best of our abilities, and I trusted that and my team to back me up. We are stronger than we know.

Francie

I had read The Red Tent and I became obsessed with the idea of having having a Red Tent birth, with everybody there. My doula said she had never heard of anyone wanting so many people there.

[One friend] said to me later that day, "We were there with you the whole time, but you were meant to cross the finish line on your own." That was so powerful.

My labor was very short and I had very little notice that it was happening and I was definitely fighting it at first. I was clear, "This is not how I'm going to do this. I need my people here. I need my tub ready." I was like, "This can't happen yet," but I had a turning point in my labor and I thought, "You just have to go inside and do this." It [still] didn't cross my mind that nobody would make it until the baby was coming out and nobody had made it but I can't even tell you I felt so supported. It was like [everyone I wanted there] was there with me. Some women talk about the fact that when they're giving birth they think about all the women who have given birth before them forever and ever, and that was something I was conscious of. It was very much like "my team is with me."

[One friend] said to me later that day, "We were there with you the whole time, but you were meant to cross the finish line on your own." That was so powerful.