Everywhere we look we are bombarded with information and warnings about COVID-19. Most of America is implementing social distancing and taking necessary precautions. These are unprecedented times, causing fear and uncertainty in many people. Including pregnant women.
If you are planning to give birth in the next few weeks, I'm sure you're feeling overwhelmed with "what ifs." Birth always comes with a certain level of unknowns, but giving birth in the midst of COVID-19 is sure to present parents with a unique set of challenges.
Will my birth team be allowed to attend my labor and delivery?
Will my family and/or other children be able to visit our new baby and me after birth?
What if the hospital where I was planning to deliver runs out of supplies or is full?
What if there are people in the hospital that are infected with COVID-19?
As you are reconsidering your choices surrounding birth, rest assured that if you and your baby are healthy, you still have options.
1. Hospital Birth
If you have decided to give birth in the hospital and are being faced with choosing only one person to be with you in your labor and delivery room, continue to meet with your doula prenatally! She can help you prepare for laboring at home for a while before going in to the hospital. She will likely offer to come to your home to labor with you there before you go in. Once you leave for the hospital, your doula can still offer support, encouragement, and information via video chat. After delivery, ask to be discharged as soon as possible. Keeping your hospital stay short will lesson your chances of being infected.
2. Free Standing Birth Center
Healthy, low risk moms and babies are great candidates for birthing at a freestanding birth center! Here in Colorado Springs we are so blessed to have Beginnings Birth Center, which is run by Certified Nurse Midwives. Those who choose to birth in the Birth Center benefit from the more personalized Midwifery Model of Care and will spend much less time in the actual Birth Center during labor, delivery, and postpartum than those delivering in the hospital.
3. Home Birth
In Colorado, families may deliver in their own home with a Certified Nurse Midwife or a Certified Professional Midwife, and we are blessed to have many great choices in Colorado Springs (you can find a great list here). Certified Midwives are experts in normal pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. They are highly trained in attending low risk births, as well as in emergency management situations. Colorado Midwives are able to administer antihemorrhagic medications, intravenous fluids, and sutures for any perineal tearing. Midwives are also certified in Neonatal Resuscitation and Infant and Adult CPR. Most midwives provide a birth pool so that their clients may enjoy the comfort of hydrotherapy during labor and delivery. Birthing in your own home with a skilled birth attendant significantly reduces your risk of infection.
The good news is that the overall risk of pregnant women contracting COVID-19 seems to be low, and that even in infected mothers, COVID-19 does not appear to be present in the amniotic fluid, placenta, the newborn baby, or in the mother's breastmilk.
A new baby is always a blessing, and I encourage pregnant women to focus on the hope that new life brings!