Is It Safe To Give Birth At A Hospital During The COVID-19 Pandemic?
May 1, 2020, 12:20 PM | Updated: 12:22 pm
AMERICAN FORK, Utah — Many women are concerned about giving birth during the COVID-19 outbreak, but hospital officials say they are taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe.
As first-time parents, Taylor and Matt Snow were already, “nervous, scared, happy; all of the emotions,” Taylor described.
After two miscarriages last year, the Snows were thrilled to finally be pregnant again, but the thought of giving birth during a worldwide pandemic brought new fears. “I would have never imagined this as one of the scenarios that would happen,” Taylor said.
The Snows found out they were pregnant last August — months before “coronavirus,” “pandemic” and “social distancing” became common vernacular.
Taylor went on bed rest right before schools, restaurants and businesses started closing. “So I got to start my stay-at-home order two weeks early,” Taylor said through laughs.
Soon after, the hospital put visitor restrictions into place, only allowing the mother to have one visitor. Leading up to the delivery, Matt became extra vigilant about staying healthy because he didn’t want to miss the birth of his daughter.
“I have to be there! I started wearing the mask (and) doing a lot more precautions to make sure that I wasn’t sick,” he said.
The Snows were understandably disappointed they couldn’t have other family members visit, even though they understood the importance. “That was a little bit scary because I was hoping to have my mom here since it was my first time giving birth and going through this,” Taylor said. “I was just trying think of the positive like, OK, well, at least I can have somebody there.’”
“It was sad but, like she said, we were there together, so that’s really all that matters,” Matt added.
Fortunately, everything went smoothly, even though Taylor had an unplanned C-section. “I felt like I was being cared for. I wasn’t feeling neglected,” Taylor said.
Little Brooklyn Snow was born at American Fork Hospital on April 9. They were able to video call her grandparents immediately afterward.
“They were great about letting us do that and giving us the time to talk to them,” Taylor said.
The Snows said they felt safe during the entirety of their stay at the hospital. Upon arrival, they had their temperatures taken and were asked if they had traveled outside of the country.
“(Hospital staff) always wear their masks, their face shields, gloves; they sanitized every single time they came in and out of the room,” Matt said. “It’s almost like I’d rather stay there than anywhere else!”
The Snows said it was really quiet in the hospital since there weren’t many visitors, which made for a nice visit.
Intermountain Healthcare’s Amy Colby, a registered nurse at American Fork Hospital, says they are finding most mothers, in the end, are grateful they don’t have to entertain visitors in the hospital. “Our moms are feeling rested with fewer interruptions. We’re able to help them breastfeed, they’re actually able to rest and recover differently than having all neighbors and friends or revolving door,” she said.
The nurses asked Matt to stay in the hospital room with Taylor the entire time to limit the outside contact he had with others. In the event Matt had to leave the room, “he had to have a certain code to get back onto the delivery room floor so that they don’t have random people coming in and out,” Taylor explained. The hospital paid for all of Matt’s meals during his stay so he didn’t have to leave.
Colby reassures parents that the hospital is a safe place to deliver. She said moms with scheduled induction or C-section dates will be screened for the virus beforehand. “So we have a result back before they come in to deliver, and then we can treat appropriately,” she said.
If a mother does test positive for the virus, medical professionals will wear N95 masks during the delivery and encourage the mother to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to separate the infected mother from the new baby to avoid passing the virus to the newborn, although the choice is ultimately up to the mom. The CDC also encourages mothers with COVID-19 to pump instead of breastfeed and use good pumping hygiene.
It is unknown whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus through breast milk, but according to the CDC early research suggests it is not likely. However, transmission can occur after birth when infants are in close contact with someone who has the illness.
Colby encourages healthy parents to also keep visitors away once they are home. “The best choice would probably be to FaceTime and see through the screen door or front door,” she said. “This is the first major decision that you get to make as parents.”
But if a new mom needs outside help from a family member, the guest should take extra precautions. “Take your temperature a couple times a day. That’s going to be one of the early signs; and handwashing is so vital,” Colby said.
Upon returning from a grocery trip, Colby encourages parents to change their shirt since they often lay their baby on their chest.
Brooklyn is the first grandchild for Taylor’s family. “I had imagined having my grandparents here, my siblings,” she said.
Although the delivery didn’t go as planned, the Snows have enjoyed the time they’ve gotten to spend with Brooklyn. “Think of the positive. Just try to think of what you can control,” Taylor tells other moms.
Colby encourages new moms to embrace alone time bonding with their baby. “Stay at home, let somebody else do the shopping, do the cooking, do the cleaning; let them take care of you, and (you can) be home with baby,” she said.
Colby wants new moms to think, “This is OK. This is what I’m supposed to be doing,” instead of worrying about getting dressed, doing their hair and having visitors over.
During a time of increased isolation, Colby also reminds both mothers and their partners to be more aware of postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders. She urges moms to follow up with their provider if they are experiencing increased feelings of sadness or anxiety.
“There are there is help. There is no reason to suffer in silence,” she said.
Mothers who find themselves needing someone to talk to can call the COVID-19 Emotional Health Relief Hotline at 833-442-2211.