As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, many pregnant women are becoming increasingly concerned about the health of themselves and their unborn children, especially when it comes time to give birth. As a result, some women have begun making alternate plans including opting for home births instead of hospital births, which would put them and their babies in contact with much fewer people.
Several stand-alone birthing centers in the U.S. have told TMZ that they are seeing a large increase in women looking to deliver at the centers or at their own homes due to concern about the coronavirus and nervousness to deliver at hospitals. Most of the centers have said that many women in their third-trimester have expressed their concern and as a result, the centers are adapting their policies. The policies would normally turn away a woman so close to giving birth as the center needs time to plan and prepare for a safe birth, but exceptions are being made due to the pandemic.
In addition, the director of Seattle Birth Centers shared that their community is seeing retired midwives return to the workforce in order to aid home births. Some women who do give birth in the hospital are being forced to do so alone in New York City, which currently has some of the strictest guidelines in the United States in regards to social distancing and is one of the biggest epicenters of the disease in the country. Mt. Sinai Health System and New York-Presbyterian have both barred all visitors from the delivery room, and hospitals around the country are also shifting their policies amid the pandemic. In Houston, Kelsey-Seybold has changed its visitor policy for both its regular patients and labor and delivery.
"We've been screening from the get-go," Dr. Megan Pallister, an OBGYN with Kelsey-Seybold, told KHOU 11. "Now there are no visitors allowed...In labor and delivery, you are allowed one visitor in. That visitor cannot be switched out. You cannot have your partner for labor and then have your mom come in for the baby afterwards. It's one person through and through."
"I think it's for their safety," she added of the New York hospital's decisions. "I think it's for the partner safety. I think it's for the safety of everyone in the hospital. But it's (labor and delivery) just something that no one desires to experience on their own."
There has been limited research on how COVID-19 affects pregnant women and their children, and while it has seemed to indicate no additional affects, the disease can impact anyone. There are currently over 69,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and over 487,000 worldwide. Over 22,000 people around the world are believed to have died from the disease.
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