Having a baby is an exciting, joyful, life-changing event. It can also cause some worry, especially for a pregnant woman. During an outbreak of any contagious illness, it’s natural for families to feel additional concern.
Some expectant moms are re-examining their birth plans in light of news about COVID-19. Here is some important information that may help.
Childbirth safety in the hospital setting
Mercy Health hospitals are always committed to providing safe care, and we are equipped to continue caring for mothers and babies.
“The best place in the United States to give birth to your baby is in a hospital with the care provider [doctor/midwife] and care team who knows about you and your pregnancy,” explains Shirley Wise, clinical service specialist for maternal-neonatal services.
Shirley emphasizes that your care providers and hospital staff are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and doing everything they possibly can to provide safe, exceptional patient care.
Mercy Health facilities are screening all patients and visitors for COVID-19 symptoms, and limiting the number of visitors for your protection. These precautions help ensure that moms and babies are coming into contact with as few people as possible, and to protect you and your newborn baby.
In fact, new moms are advised to spend time with as few people as possible in the weeks prior to your delivery and after you return home, too. This is not the time for gatherings of relatives and friends or for them to stop by and meet the baby — in the hospital or at home.
Shirley says that between the normal precautions that Mercy Health uses to protect patients and the additional precautions in place during the COVID-19 outbreak, the hospital is following current CDC recommendations.
The childbirth experience
The childbirth experience may be different than planned for new moms who wanted a lot of family to be present. Some women are considering home birth to avoid the hospital altogether.
The potential safety of a home birth depends on each woman’s unique situation, but any woman with high-risk factors (including diabetes, blood pressure issues and prior caesarean section) is absolutely better off in a hospital, where expert staff and specialized equipment are immediately available.
Shirley recommends that anyone considering a home birth talk to their physician or midwife about their birth plan and their specific risk factors.
For women who really want to have loved ones nearby, remember that there are now plenty of ways to keep in touch.
“We’re more than open to whatever technology you can use to stay connect with family,” says Shirley.
Facetime, Google Hangouts, Skype, phone calls, texting, etc., are all possible options to help support new moms and share their experience with loved ones in real time, although we do request no videotaping of your actual birth to protect your privacy.
Prenatal and postnatal care
Prenatal care should continue to be a priority, and many providers are changing the way they interact with patients to provide extra precautions. You might find appointments being conducted by phone or video, for example.
To avoid having multiple moms together in a waiting room, a practice may ask each patient to call in when they arrive in the parking lot. A nurse then sends the patient straight back to a private room when it’s time for them to be seen.
Many processes are being adjusted for patient safety right now, so consider calling in before your next appointment to see if anything has changed.
Education is still important as well. Although in-person childbirth and breastfeeding classes and tours are being canceled for the time being, your local Mercy Health labor and delivery department staff will share alternative resources, such as webinars on childbirth, breastfeeding, infant care and more.
We’re here for you
Remember, our physicians, midwives and nurses are here to give every mom the best possible birth experience. Please don’t hesitate to call your local Mercy Health hospital with any questions or concerns.
Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to COVID-19.
Call our 24/7 COVID-19 Hotline at 888-700-9011 for questions and guidance.