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Mom Shares Her Childbirth Experience Where Unang Yakap Wasn't Done
PHOTO BY COURTESY OF ANNA DESPOJO-CIPRIANO
  • New hospital childbirth protocols state that all pregnant women should undergo a triage to check for symptoms and exposure to COVID-19. Some hospitals also require a COVID-19 swab test or chest X-ray coupled with a blood test to check for pneumonia and other infections. (Click here to know the rationale behind this protocol.)

    The level of care for pregnant women who show symptoms or had exposure to COVID-19 is the same except with a few added measures. Pregnant patients, for example, are a priority for the COVID-19 swab test if it has not yet been done. (Click here on what to expect if your pregnant and positive for COVID-19.)

    The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that a COVID-19 positive mom and newborn should still be afforded essential newborn care practices and breastfeeding should still be done, provided that the mom wears a mask and practices proper hand hygiene to prevent the newborn from getting infected. Unang Yakap is incredibly beneficial to newborns, but they are also more susceptible to COVID-19 if infected.

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    As childbirth protocols during COVID-19 remain changing, however, your birth plan becomes even more of a shared decision between you and your doctor. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about what happens before, during and after childbirth in the time of COVID-19.  

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    Giving birth on the COVID-19 hospital floor 

    Anna Despojo-Cipriano, who gave birth in April 2020 during enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), did not go through essential newborn care (ENC) protocols. Her chest X-ray result showed “traces of pneumonia,” according to her doctor. This could have been treated as a red flag for possible COVID-19. Perhaps as precaution, Unang Yakap or skin-to-skin contact was not conducted in her case. Anna also did not get to to initiate breastfeeding since her newborn baby did not join her in her hospital room.

    “I never had Unang Yakap with my baby, nor was I able to breastfeed her habang nasa hospital. Hindi rin siya roomed-in with me,” Anna shared. “I never bothered asking why. Inintindi ko na lang at tinanggap ko na I gave birth at a time na hospital protocols are strict due to the pandemic,” she said. 

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    Anna had been dilated to six centimeters , so she was immediately brought up to the labor and delivery room for COVID-19 patients. No birth companions are allowed in the delivery room now. If protocols are to be strictly followed, suspected COVID-19 patients or persons under investigation (PUIs) like Anna, are not allowed companions in their hospital rooms.

    While her husband, JM, couldn’t be with Anna in the labor or delivery room, he was given a chance to be with his wife in her hospital room after delivery. But he needed to sign a waiver that absolves the hospital of any blame should he get infected with COVID-19. 

    JM also needed to abide by the rules. “Mula mapasok siya hanggang maka-recover at lumabas ang swab tests, hindi ka lalabas ng kwarto, hindi ka lalabas ng floor, hindi ka lalabas ng ospital,” the new dad wrote on Facebook.

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    Meeting their newborn baby for the first time

    Anna had a normal deliverywelcoming a healthy baby girl, Janine. Wearing a mask, the new mama had her first photo taken with her newborn, courtesy of her doctors.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Anna Despojo-Cipriano
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    Baby Janine wasn’t tested for COVID-19 and was released to Anna’s parents. “My OB would have allowed me to go home the following day, kasabay ni baby,” said the new mom. They stayed in the hospital because she was told her RT-PCR swab test results would be out in 48 to 72 hours.

    Still in the hospital, new parents Anna and JM having a video call with their newborn daughter.
    PHOTO BY COURTESY OF ANNA DESPOJO-CIPRIANO
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    But the results were delayed, and their hospital bills were piling up, so Anna and JM decided to get discharged and were just instructed to self-isolate at home. After four more days of home quarantine, Anna’s swab test results came out negative, and they were allowed to be with their daughter. 

    Another video call with their daughter during self-isolation or home quarantine, while waiting for Anna's COVID-19 RT-PCR test results.
    PHOTO BY COURTESY OF ANNA DESPOJO-CIPRIANO
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    “Baby and I are doing okay,” Anna shared. “She’s currently mixed feeding since I’m still establishing my milk supply pa rin,” she added. “For the entire time na nasa hospital ako, I tried pumping pero walang milk na lumalabas. Nag-start lang may lumabas when I was already under home quarantine,” the new mom added. 

    Looking back, Anna had no regrets about her birthing experience except for one: having her husband with her during the birth of their baby.

    “I felt bad he wasn’t even able to see her, even when she was already in the nursery dahil magkasama kami, which made him a PUM,” she said. JM was only able to see his daughter upon arriving at Anna’s parent’s house.

    Anna's COVID-19 test turned out negative, and she and JM were finally able to be with their baby girl!
    PHOTO BY COURTESY OF ANNA DESPOJO-CIPRIANO
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    After giving birth during pandemic and ECQ, Anna has a message to preggos moms: Stay home and be honest about your health conditions and history. “Healthcare workers are doing their part, we should do our part as well,” she added. 

    She also asks other moms to be flexible about their birth plans, especially if it’s for the baby’s safety. “I am not to judge other moms, especially first-time moms like me pero huwag na sana sumama loob nila if hindi masunod yung birth plan nila or dahil hindi pwede husband sa delivery room,” she said. 

    “I know times can be tough, pero I know the hospitals are doing their best in helping flatten the curve,” Anna explained.

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