What to Know About Giving Birth During a Pandemic
May 20, 2020
Going into labor and giving birth can be an exciting but scary experience under normal circumstances, let alone during a global pandemic. With the spread of COVID-19 increasing throughout the United States, daily routines are rapidly changing for many expecting mothers. With due dates approaching, many expecting moms may be wondering how the pandemic may affect their deliveries.
New CDC Guidelines for Birth and Delivery
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have implemented new considerations and guidelines for obstetric care facilities and patients. Recent evidence and information about the causes of COVID-19 helped shape the new policies.1 Even if you don’t have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, expecting mothers may be subject to some of the rigorous protocols discussed below. The goal is to prevent the virus from spreading and protect mothers, their babies, and the dedicated healthcare workers assisting with deliveries.
Before You Go to the Hospital
Those who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 should notify the hospital’s obstetric unit before arrival. Therefore, medical care teams can make appropriate infection control preparations. These preparations may include:
- Determining the most suitable room for labor and delivery
- Ensuring personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are available and in place before your arrival
- Informing your healthcare team of your situation and establishing expected infection control protocol ahead of your arrival
- If you arrive by emergency medical services transport, the driver should contact the facility during or before transport and follow local or regional transport protocols.
During Your Hospital Stay
Pregnant women who display symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or who begin to show signs during a hospital stay, will be prioritized for testing, per the new CDC guidelines.1 Your healthcare providers should inform you of the process for testing as well as how the results will affect your labor and delivery experience. For example, the number of visitors you are allowed may be limited. You may only be allowed one essential support person for the duration of your stay. Per CDC guidelines, any visitors or support individuals you have will likely undergo screening for the virus before being allowed access. Furthermore, the use of alternative visitor communications, such as phone or video calls, will likely be encouraged.1
It is still undetermined if a breastfeeding mother can transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to her newborn through breastmilk; however, limited data suggests it is unlikely.2 Breastmilk is loaded with helpful nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby from all sorts of illnesses; therefore, the CDC continues to recommend breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for most infants.2
If you choose to breastfeed and have tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask and washing your hands before each feeding. If you have COVID-19 and choose to express breast milk, the CDC recommends using a dedicated breast pump, wearing a cloth face mask during expression, and washing your hands before each session. Mothers should also wash their hands before touching any pump or bottle parts.2
If possible, the expressed breast milk should be fed to the infant by an individual from the same household who does not have COVID-19 and who is not at high risk for severe illness.2
There is a lot more information available regarding COVID-19 and infants and children on the CDC’s website. Parents and caregivers should make an effort to be well-informed of the latest best practices for caring for a newborn and recovering mother amid the pandemic.
Consult with Your Doctor
These are challenging times for everyone, and healthcare professionals are working nonstop to ensure they have the latest data and are implementing the best infection control methods. If you have concerns or questions at any time during your labor and delivery experience, speak up. There is still much that is unknown about this virus and how it spreads. But to keep yourself and your baby safe, it is recommended to follow the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines as well as the instructions of your obstetrics care team.
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is sponsored by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.