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People around the globe have been adapting their lives in the face of the new uncertainties that come with COVID-19. For pregnant families, this may mean considering a change in birth plans to include an out-of-hospital birth setting.

An out-of-hospital birth happens at home or in a birth center instead of a hospital. This may be a more appealing option to families as they practice social distancing and try to limit their potential exposure to coronavirus.


If you are considering switching to a home birth in light of COVID-19, there are a number of factors to consider. Here are some key points to know when switching to an out-of-hospital birthing setting.

1. Don't change your birth plans out of fear alone

If your birth plan currently includes a hospital birth, avoid switching your plans to an out-of-hospital birth solely out of fear of COVID-19.

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This pandemic is understandably stressful and scary for all of us, and there are valid concerns surrounding giving birth in a hospital right now. However, it is also important to try and ground yourself—take an educated look at the whole picture before switching to an out-of-hospital birth at home or in a birth center.

An out-of-hospital birth can be a beautiful experience, but it is important to make your final decision from a place of education, not fear.

2. Educate yourself on your options

Good education on all your birthing options is the key to having a good out-of-hospital birth experience. There are several sources of information out there that can walk you through home birth and birth center experiences to help you determine if you are a candidate for out-of-hospital birth.

(Psst: The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama covers all types of births! Order your copy today.)

When people ask me what a home birth is like, I always refer them to the documentary Why Not Home, featuring doctors and nurses who work in a hospital but choose to have their own babies at home and the "why" behind their decision.

When reading studies, make sure they apply to you by looking for research on intended home births attended by trained and licensed midwives. Including data from accidental home birth and roadside-babies can alter the findings.

3. Do what you can to stay healthy

Out-of-hospital births are options for people with low-risk in pregnancies. So if you decide that this is the best option for you, staying low risk will be important. Now, there is only so much you can do to control this—things happen, and usually, high-risk pregnancies are no one's "fault." Still, there are steps you can take to stay as healthy as possible.

Good nutrition and supplements (that have been approved by your provider), exercise and a good support system play into staying low-risk.

4. Find the right midwife

Choosing the right provider is incredibly important. I always encourage people to interview several providers to find the right fit. Research your local midwives (ensuring that they have a current state license and a good record). Read their websites and reviews, speak with them on the phone, and then choose who resonates most with you.

At its core, midwifery care is relational—it is building a good relationship and trusting each other.

5. Consider a doula + your labor support team

In addition to your midwife, would you like anyone else to be at your birth (this may be virtually depending on the state of the pandemic)? Working closely with someone like a doula can help you to fill your toolbox with great relaxation and pain management tools.

When a woman feels relaxed, safe and supported in her birthing decisions, the hormones of birth (such as oxytocin and relaxin) flow more freely—this can help the birth process enormously.

This hormonal process is protected by creating a calm, comfortable environment for the laboring person. Ultimately, wherever birth happens for you, remember that you can have a beautiful experience—yes, even during a pandemic.

You are rocking this new-baby learning curve, mama! Even if you never changed a diaper pre-parenthood, you can probably now do that with one hand, in the dark and still half asleep.

While these early days can feel like you're just going through the motions of feedings and diaper changes, take heart, mama: You and baby are developing a strong, special bond—as those early smiles go to show. (Did you have to pick your heart up off the floor when your baby cracked a grin for the first time?)

As your baby continues to adjust to life outside the womb, you might start feeling more confident with this new chapter in life, too. Making the transition to "mama" for the first time is full of sweet moments, and you really should take heart that you are doing an incredible job.

As you continue to adapt to parenthood, here are some of the items we swear by (for you and baby) for the 2-month mark:

To introduce nursery naptime: Infant Optics video baby monitor

baby monitor

You know that nursery you designed and decorated during pregnancy? It's probably been sitting unused while baby is bunked up in your bedroom per the AAP's recommendation. If you're now ready to put them down for naps in their nursery crib, a good video monitor can help ease your mind.

$165.99

To free up your hands: Infantino 4-in-1 carrier

baby carrier

As you and your little buddy get into a comfortable rhythm, a carrier that is also comfortable for you both is priceless. We love carriers that allow babies to face inward for snuggling and snoozing while you take care of things around the house, or outward as they get older and want to observe.

$29.99

To take on tummy time sessions: Fisher Price play dome

Fisher price on the go dome

Now that your baby is awake for longer stretches of time, a colorful and comfortable play space is a must-have. Make it even more fun by getting down on baby's level to serve as a cheerleader during tummy time sessions!

$59.99

To look and learn: High-Contrast Books Cluck and Moo

baby books

During the first three months of life, infants have an easier time focusing on shades of black or white and can only see a few inches beyond their faces. That makes a high-contrast book that you can read with them a perfect source of visual stimulation.

To soothe with lullabies: Hatch Rest sound machine

Hatch Rest

It's no coincidence your little one drifts off to sleep better when there is some soothing background noise. After all, they spent months and months listening to ambient noise in the womb!

$59.99

To keep it comfy + stylish: Ingrid + Isabel postpartum leggings

postpartum leggings

Simply put, high-waisted leggings are a gift to postpartum mamas during that limbo period when maternity clothes are too loose and pre-pregnancy clothes aren't quite right. We are so grateful to live in an era when leggings are considered stylish, no matter how long you choose to wear them.

$34.99

To help the nursing mama’s wardrobe: Ingrid + Isabel nursing tanks

nursing tanks

For breastfeeding mamas, feeding baby requires some easy access to the milk supply. Our pro tip is to stock up on nursing-friendly tanks and tops so you can feed your baby without halfway undressing.

$24.99

To get a sharable diaper bag: Eddie Bauer backpack

backpack

Where baby goes, so too should supplies—even if it's just a neighborhood stroll. We're partial to backpacks that are roomy and comfortable to carry.

$64.99

To give yourself a little TLC: Honest Mama soaking salts

honest mama

Put an at-home spa session on your schedule, mama. Draw a bath, add some aromatic soaking salts and an eye mask—and enjoy this important moment of self-care.

$14.99

To put a little pep in your step: A New Day sneakers

new day sneakers

When life means constantly balancing all the things, slide-on sneakers are both practical and super cute. We'll take a pair in each color!

$24.99

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.

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The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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