Having a Baby During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Having a baby during a pandemic is sure to add to the anxiety that would typically surround a birth. But babies will be born, whether there’s a virus or not.
The Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center at Newport Hospital team remains committed to doing all we can to protect our patients during the coronavirus outbreak. It is an anxious time for everyone, but we are here to help each family write their birth story, despite a pandemic.
We have made some changes to our birthing center process for everyone’s safety.
Every patient who is admitted to Newport Hospital, including the birthing center, is tested for COVID-19. This is true whether a patient is in labor or admitted to the birthing center for any other reason. Testing is necessary for your safety, and that of your partner and baby, and our staff. Right now, we can do rapid testing on our patients and have results in approximately an hour.
If a mother presents with COVID symptoms or tests COVID positive:
- She will be placed in a negative pressure room, if available, on the birthing center and will be placed on isolation precautions.
- The birthing partner can stay so long as he or she screens free from COVID symptoms and will have to wear personal protective equipment for their safety.
- Should delivery occur, we have procedures in place to provide the safest care for you and your newborn.
Birthing partner policy
Mothers can have one birthing partner the entire time you and baby are in the hospital. The birthing partner will be asked the same COVID screening questions as anyone coming into the hospital and will not be allowed in if symptomatic. While we are allowing a birthing partner during this fall/winter second surge of the virus, we are not allowing doulas to participate in the birth at this time unless they are to be considered the mother’s one birthing partner.
During the surges in the pandemic, we have needed to address our visitation policy to keep our patients and staff safe. You can check on the visitation policy here, as it is updated as necessary. Aside from the one birthing partner, currently there is no visitation allowed as part of hospital policy for all units, including the birthing center.
On the positive side, we have found that many of the families appreciate not having visitors in the hospital. It’s an opportunity for new parents to bond with baby without distractions.
We know that masks are an effective way to prevent the spread of the virus. Our policy is that mother and birthing partner must wear a hospital-issued mask, covering both mouth and nose, when any health care worker is in the hospital room. When you are alone together in the room it can be removed. No cloth masks are allowed. This policy is consistent across all areas of the hospital.
Despite the pandemic there are no real changes to the discharge process. By 48 hours, typically everyone is ready to go home; sometimes as early as 24 to 36 hours. If mom and baby don’t need to be here, we encourage them to go home and practice safe social distancing. We find that most of our families prefer to be home during this trying time.
- Before giving birth, we encourage expectant mothers to self-quarantine as much as possible throughout pregnancy, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- After discharge, we encourage new moms to continue self-quarantining. Once you are home with baby, continue to limit visitors to your home as much as possible. Many families find that they’re enjoying the continued quarantine time as a new family. It can help to bring the family unit close together and focus on each other during this adjustment.
- Under normal circumstances, baby’s first outing might be going to stores, running errands, and seeing family. During the pandemic, however, the first outing with baby is probably going to the pediatric provider’s office a few days after birth. The pediatric provider will provide further guidance at that first visit regarding keeping your newborn safe during this time.
Care and education must go on
The pandemic hasn’t changed the care we provide, and we are also able to continue several programs for new moms, just in a different format.
- Childbirth and breastfeeding classes are now available through Zoom.
- Our weekly breastfeeding support group is now held via Zoom. This group is helpful for new breastfeeding moms and is also an opportunity to meet other new moms.
- Lactation consults are still in-person at the hospital when additional breastfeeding support is needed and require an order from you or your newborn’s provider.
Should you get a Coronavirus vaccine?
Currently there is no data on whether pregnant or breastfeeding women or children under 16 should receive the vaccine. While this population should not be excluded from vaccinating, we encourage you to have a discussion with your provider.
For more information about the Birthing Center at Newport Hospital, visit our website.
About the Author:
Sharon Ryan, BSN, RNC-OB
Sharon Ryan is the clinical manager in the Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center at Newport Hospital.
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