Giving birth alone at the hospital is a daunting experience, to say the least. If you’re considering the option due to health or hospital restrictions, you’re probably in need of reassurance of how the process will go.
While I can’t say my experience is exactly how your experience would go, I believe in sharing experiences to help others.
Today I’m sharing my birth story where I gave birth to my daughter without my husband due to COVID-19.
Elizabeth Rose’s Birth Story: Giving Birth Alone at a Hospital
Before I actually went into labor, Alex and I had a long talk about the realities of giving birth during a global pandemic with serious restrictions on just about everything.
Having a baby during a global pandemic
Because of COVID-19, the rules for visitors were one support person per patient and if that person left, he could not come back in. They also had to walk in with you.
Our drive from my house to the hospital is about 45 minutes/1 hour. With my boys, I delivered 30 minutes – 1 hours from arriving at the hospital.
We knew having someone meet us at the hospital and handing off the boys wasn’t practical if I was very much in labor.
With alllll of that in mind, we decided that I would go it alone. I have relatively quick, blissfully uncomplicated labors, so I figured it would be quick, easy, and we’d be back home with baby girl ASAP. (HA, HA, HA.) God always has different plans, doesn’t he?
Tip 1: If possible, accept that you’ll be going it solo sooner than later.
I am not a “wait and see” kind of person, especially when it comes to things like this. Alex suggested waiting until I was in labor and trying to make it work. But I knew if we planned on him being with me and then it didn’t go that way, I would be a mess.
If you can accept that you’ll be giving birth at the hospital alone, do it. Waffling back and forth does no one good. And then, bonus, if it works out so your partner can join,
Normally I would bounce on an exercise ball to get things moving, but I was still nearly 4 weeks from my due date, so I was hoping she would stay in a few extra days, at least.
Alex left work his normal time around 4:30 and I was making dinner. I was pretty sure that it would be a night ended in the hospital, but as with my previous births, I refused to go in unless I knew.
Heading to the hospital to have my baby without a partner
Alex came home and I started timing my contractions and I was doing dishes when I told Alex today would be the day, and let’s get going. My bag was packed, I got the boys dressed and ready, and off we drove to drop me off.
I cried a few times. It was part anxiety, part fear, and part guilt of adding a new baby. I couldn’t look at the boys without crying.
Into the hospital I walked, carrying my bag and the car seat and told the woman at the desk I was in labor. They took my temperature and sent me up to L&D.
As always, I sat in admittance for quite some time, seeing 2 other women get pushed into a room before me. Turns out, when you don’t scream and huff when you say you’re in labor, no one believes you. At this point my contractions were consistently 2-3 minutes apart.
Finally, they got me into a room, hooked up to a monitor, and waited for the doctor to come check me.
Tip 2: Tell Staff You’re by Yourself ASAP
And preferably, before you get emotional. Every time a nurse would ask me where my birthing partner would be here, I got choked up. I was honestly fine through most of it, but something about them asking made me sad and self-conscious.
My longest labor, ever
Eventually the doctor came in, confirmed my contractions were close together, and told me I was only 3.5 centimeters, but the baby was low. Whaaaaat? I’d never come in less than 6.
Another new thing: I was Strep B positive! Basically, this labor was to be totally different than my boys, which was definitely unsettling since i was going it alone.
Thankfully, the doctor did not send me home (my biggest fear!) since I have a history of fast and furious labors.
Ella ended up being my longest labor – I checked in at 7 pm and she was born at 8:14 am.
Progress was slow – I think very much in part to laying down so much, since I was hooked up to an IV for the antibiotics. I did eventually get a birthing ball to bounce on around 2-3 am which sped things up a bit.
I spent my time reading on my Kindle and watching the Office on my laptop. Expert advice: laughing while in labor is hard and not recommended.
Tip 3: Bring something to entertain you and chat when possible.
Look, I’m not going to say that giving birth at a hospital alone isn’t lonely – it is. While the nurses were amazing and kind, they are working. They can’t hang out and chat all day. Bring something to keep you occupied. A book, a laptop to watch movies, etc.
When the nurses are in the room, chat with them! They are all kind and sweet.
Getting closer to delivery!
By 6 I knew I was getting close – yay! At 7 there was a nurse change and my contractions were getting super painful, a sign that I’m about there. They checked me and told me I was at 8.5 centimeters and that the doctors were switching shifts at 8 and would come in around then to check me.
From 7-8 was my most miserable hour. It was the hour I felt heartbroken and scared to be doing this alone. I wanted someone to hold my hand, talk me through the bad contractions, and keep me distracted. But I only had myself.
I talked to myself a lot, encouraged myself. There was cursing at everything, and I outright said, “This effing sucks.” A lot. I texted Alex who was in the midst of kid get ready time, so obviously distracted.
Alone #4: Get ready to be your own advocate!
I am a passive people pleaser by nature. The whole time I was in the hospital, my husband texted me reminers to speak up for myself as needed. Not having him to do that for me hen I already felt vulnerable and nervous was definitely tough.
BUT I definitely feel like it forced me to speak up when I needed something, which empowered me through even today.
Time to push!
At 7:45 I knew it was time. I needed to push, everything hurt, and I dreaded each contraction. I told the nurses, who told me that the doctor would be coming around 8. This is when I resented not having Alex with me – he is my rock and the person who speaks up. Instead, I nodded, hating every contraction that came with everything in me.
At 8:03 my water broke. I called the nurses in and, as is usual for me, things got going quick. The doctor who was technically on her way out rushed in, everyone geared up, and I started pushing.
The doctor had to use an amnihook to finish breaking my water and move my placenta aside. (My water bag was apparently what was slowing my labor, it wasn’t letting her drop very quickly.)
Honestly, I thought the pushing would be the hardest part to do alone. I knew from experience how draining it is, and having someone to coach me through is a comfort. But instead, the nurses and doctor were so kind and encouraging.
3 contractions and maybe 6 pushes and out came Elizabeth Rose. I’d given birth alone at the hospital to the most gorgeous baby girl and I was so damn proud of myself,
Elizabeth Rose Wieboldt
Ella is named after my great grandmother Elizabeth (Bess, who I was also named after) and my grandmother Rosemary. I’m pretty sure they were with me.
She was born May 12, 2020 at 8:14 am. A dainty 5 pounds 10 ounces and 19 inches long.
Here’s the thing: giving birth alone was not easy.
Not having that support with you, someone who knows and loves you, someone to talk to and experience this beautiful experience with you – it’s hard.
But in some weird way I cannot explain, it’s freeing. It’s empowering. It’s something I share with my daughter that not a single other person in her life experienced with her. And that’s special.
After she was born, my sweet, quiet girl barely cried, she wouldn’t nurse and had low blood sugar. Her breathing was a little funky, but they let me hold her, skin to skin, and just be with her. I even help her as they wheeled me down to the maternity ward from L&D.
As soon as the Maternity ward nurse saw Ella, she grabbed her and whisked her away. I assumed it was to do the normal clean up routine, but about an hour later our pediatrician came in to tell me she was going to NICU for observation, probably for 8-12 hours.
Then NICU wheeled her in in an isolette, all covered in yellow gowns and told me that they’d be keeping her for 3 days to treat for potential infection and taechypnia, which is essentially irregular rapid breathing due to fluid in her lungs.
The NICU stay is a story for another day, but long story short, due to the pandemic and social distancing, I was allowed in the NICU during a specific time slot for 2 hours each day. I was released from the hospital without my baby and had to drive in daily to see her. I pumped for her and my husband didn’t meet our baby until she came home, 8 days after she as born.
More Tips for giving birth alone at the hospital
Charge your phone!!!
And bring your dang charger. You’ll be on it a lot to chat with people and stay busy, as well keep yourself distracted.
Ask nurses to take pictures
When they took Ella away to weigh her, the nurse asked if I wanted to give her my phone for a photo. They also took photos of me and the baby for me. Don’t be shy!! This is such a special time and a time to remember – capture every moment.
Find the positives.
Obviously birthing alone isn’t the ideal thing. But you know what? There are positives! There was time to spend with my baby without having intrusions. I controlled telling everyone – and got the satisfaction and joy of being present and mindful to see their reactions.
Finally, I learned how strong and independent I can be if needed.
And finally, I 10000% have lifeline rights to guilt-tripping my daughter for the rest of her life. “I was in labor for 12 hours, alone, during a pandemic, and you decide to wear THAT out?! I think not.”