Living during the pandemic is stressful enough, but when your wife is about to give birth to your baby prematurely during this time of uncertainty, you can bet it takes anxiety to another level.
But while the birth experience with all the restrictions and protocols in place was very different for Johannesburg’s Ruan Brink when he compares it to the birth of his first born, he says the hospital did their best to involve him as often as it was safe to do.
Ruan’s wife Megan, who had tested positive for COVID-19 early in her pregnancy, went into premature labour at 35 weeks on 11 July but delivered a healthy baby boy via emergency C-section.
Little Xavian is currently still in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the hospital, but Ruan says both he, and mom Megan, are doing well.
Ruan’s tips for expecting dads
With COVID-19 infection rates still on a sharp increase, soon-to-be dads will be especially nervous about the upcoming birth and delivery but Ruan offers his personal advice based on his own recent experience:
- Get the COVID-19 test done as soon as the doctor says so. It takes at least 16 hours to get the results – if you’re lucky – and you can’t go in to the labour ward with your wife unless you’ve tested negative.
- It’s in your doctor’s and the hospital’s best interest to keep your baby and wife as healthy as possible. Yes, it’s a stressful time, but they know what they’re doing and they want to get your wife and baby home as soon as possible.
- Don’t video the birth, especially during a C-section. Most doctors won’t allow it. It’s nothing sinister, but in all honesty, no body want to see that on video I can assure you.
- If you can’t handle blood, sit on the chair provided during the C-section.
In terms of hygiene, do make sure you cut your finger nails short, and do wash your hands for at least 40 seconds as often as possible. Life hospitals have a chart up to demonstrate best practice.
- Don’t punch the doctor – they’re going to poke and prod your child, then jab them with what looks like a massive needle without warning. When the paediatrician jabbed my son with his first-ever injection, I almost took a swing at him. Expect an overwhelming sense of paternal protection during this time, but don’t swing at the paediatrician – he’s just doing his job.
- Your wife is going through a lot during delivery, regardless whether she’s having a natural or C-section birth. Give her all your attention and encourage her – she’s doing a lot just to stay conscious and she deserves a round of applause.
- Remember to eat and look after yourself. The days after birth are a manic whirlwind of last-minute things, so it’s easy to skip a meal, miss out on sleep and forget to drink water. Make time to take care of yourself because your partner is going to need your full support.
- Once the dust settles, take time to reflect on everything that’s just happened. You’ve just had a child during a global pandemic – there’s a lot of stress and you need to take time out to process it. Have a cry if you have to, or punch a log if that’s how you process emotion. Whatever you do, work through your emotions.
- Lastly, enjoy it! COVID-19 may have changed the way things happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to have a bad experience. You’re becoming a dad, for the second or third time maybe. It’s an incredible, fascinating experience, and trust me, the birth of your baby will be the best moment in your life. Dont let this virus take that away from you.
Editor of Living and Loving. She is responsible for developing the brand’s overall content and business strategy.
She has worked on various newspapers and magazines as a journalist and editor over the years. Passionate about health and wellbeing, she has won several respected industry awards for writing and editing. She’s featured on radio and television as a health and parenting expert numerous times and has judged the Pfizer Mental Health Journalism Awards on three occasions.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.