Giving Birth During a Pandemic: An Update
As your baby's due date approaches you might be wondering how recent surges in COVID-19 will be affecting your care. We surveyed over 20 nurses from around the country and here is what we have heard:
Will you be tested for COVID-19 when you come to the hospital in labor or for an induction/cesarean delivery?
Most places said yes, you will be tested for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms. The reason for this is to keep you and your family safe but also to keep your care-team safe.
If you come back positive, your care team will be wearing more protective gear, but this shouldn’t change the care you are receiving. We know this may feel scary or even frustrating. Nurses don’t love feeling separated from you by all of the PPE either, but everyone wants to keep each other as safe as possible.
Does your visitor have to wear a mask at the hospital?
Yes, every nurse surveyed said that masks are required at all times when care-team members are in the room.
Will the birthing person have to wear a mask?
This answer depended on the location. Some hospitals required all patients to wear masks, some allowed COVID-negative patients to remove their mask during active labor.
How many visitors are allowed?
Many places said two visitors are allowed during labor and one support person after the birth but there are some places still only allowing one support person.
Some hospitals required proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests from all visitors within the last 72 hours. Nurses reported that many people were purchasing the 15-minute at-home tests in order to test within the right time frame.
Are doulas allowed?
Most places said yes, as long as they had proof of certification and met the other requirements for visitors at that facility.
What happens if I am COVID-positive and in labor?
At most places, the COVID-positive birthing person was required to wear a mask for the entire stay.
Some facilities will allow COVID-positive moms to have one asymptomatic, COVID-negative visitor. The visitor is not allowed to leave the room at all (tell them to pack lots of food for themself!).
The infant is usually allowed to stay in the room with mom but parents/support people are advised to frequently hand wash and to wear a mask at all times when the newborn is in the room.
If the newborn is transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) many facilities are not allowing COVID-positive mothers or the support people who were in the COVID-positive birthing room to visit the infant. This is done in order to protect the other babies in the NICU. Many facilities are allowing asymptomatic family (i.e., baby's grandma) to visit the infant in the NICU. Some facilities have the opportunity to video chat with your baby while they are in the NICU so make sure to ask!
Is it possible to give my newborn COVID-19?
Per the CDC, yes, findings show that newborns can get COVID-19 but, generally speaking, the cases are mild.
A Final Word...
We know that giving birth during a time of uncertainty can be really overwhelming. Our advice is to ask lots of questions. Many of the nurses shared that COVID-19 policies change frequently. We recommend that as your due date approaches, you should ask your clinic or doctor what the newest hospital policies are so you don’t feel surprised when you arrive to have your baby.
Pssst! Baby's born, now what?! Read our update on Breastfeeding and the Coronavirus.