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Pregnancy and Birthing in the COVID-19 Climate
Due to the pandemic normal practices for prenatal appointments, labour and delivery as well as postpartum care have changed. This can be a very scary time to be having a baby. The best thing that you can do to help cope with these uncertainties to inform yourself about your rights, hospital or birth place polices and any possible exceptions to the pandemic policies.
How to Reduce COVID-19 Related Birth Stress
If you are anxious about what you can and cannot do due to COVID-19 policies make sure to discuss this well in advance of your birth with your healthcare providers. Some commons stressors and possible solutions are listed below.
Do I Have to Wear a Mask When Delivering?
No. You should advise your health care providers that you will not be wearing a mask so that they can ensure they have increased PPE at their disposal.
Can I Be Denied a Support Person at the Birth?
No. Before the pandemic policies came into place you were allowed in most hospitals to have 2 support people with you. Due to the pandemic you are now only allowed 1 support person. Most hospital also have a policy that the 1 support person must remain the same throughout the hospital stay and their ability to come and go may be restricted.
Some hospitals prevent you from having your support person with while being triaged. If you know this to be the case at the hospital you plan to give birth at ask your healthcare provider in advance of your labour if there are any exceptions to that policy. In most cases there will be exceptions and you may fall into one of those exceptions.
In many hospitals if you are in the care of a midwife you will by-pass triage upon your arrival at the hospital anyways. This is because they have generally triaged you at your home before arriving at hospital. Again, this should be explored with your health care provider prior to labour.
Can I have a Doula Present ?
Yes you can still have a doula present however that will count as your support person. This may mean you have to choose between your partner and your doula. However, some doula’s have been offering their services virtually.
Will My Partner Be Able to Attend the Ultrasound?
No. Currently most facilities are not allowing a partner to be present during any ordered ultrasounds. Again, most of these policies have exceptions. Ask your care provider and/or UT clinic what the exceptions are to see if you would qualify for any of the exceptions. For example, some clinics will allow a partner to attend if a) screening is passed b) the ultrasound is scheduled for a time when there will be fewer patients in the clinic and c) there is a valid reason you need a support person.
In addition if you have a disability and require a support person to be present, they cannot be denied. For example, if you are hard of hearing or do not speak English and need someone else to help you communicate. This would be an exception to the general policy.
Does COVID -19 Impact My Choice of Birth Place?
No. You may still choose your birth location be it home, birth centre or hospital. Additional precautions and recommendations will be make if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 however your choice of birth place remains.
Can I Still Have a Water Birth?
Yes. You can still have a water birth. It is however noted that if you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID -19 it is not recommended due to increase chance of transmission. This is something you should discuss with your health care providers prior to labour.
Will I Still Have In Person Prenatal Visits?
Yes. However in person visits are going to be less frequent and of shorter duration. In most cases they will be accompanied by virtual appointments to discuss your ongoing care, questions, concerns and all other regular discussions that would have taken place in person. This is to limit all non-essential in person visits. As with all rules, there are exceptions. For example, you may have a pregnancy concern that would make a longer in person visit medically necessary.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss further. As always, I provide a free initial consultation.
This article was written by Personal Injury Lawyer Catherine Shearer.