If you’re expecting a baby, you may be concerned about giving birth during a pandemic. It’s understandable. Your original birth plan did not include delivering your baby during a public health crisis. The good news is that hospitals are doing everything possible to make sure you and your baby are safe during your upcoming labor and delivery.
Still, as your due date approaches, it is important to learn as much as possible about the hospital where you are delivering so you’ll know what to expect. You’ll want to know their COVID-19 safety protocols and how they affect you.
“Our hospitals remain safe places for pregnant women to give birth. We’re committed to making sure you and your baby are safe and well at all times,” says Ronald Salzetti, MD, an OB-GYN at Scripps Clinic.
Here are seven frequently asked questions about labor and delivery at the four Scripps hospitals with birthing centers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You will be tested for COVID-19 after you arrive at the hospital for labor and delivery. You will be greeted in your hospital room by staff in personal protective equipment. They will take your temperature and swab your nose to test for COVID-19.
You will get tested 48 hours before a scheduled Caesarean section.
Due to COVID-19, only one support person can enter the hospital with the delivering patient and be in the labor and delivery room with her. If you are having a C-section, you will be taken to an operating room for this surgery.
After delivery, you and your newborn will most likely be transferred to a post-partum room and your birth partner may remain with you.
If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 – at the hospital or just recently – you may still have a birth partner with you, but that person cannot be someone who lives with you.
You are encouraged to have a back-up choice for birth partner just in case. That person must be symptom-free or not recently tested positive for COVID-19 and cannot be someone living with you.
Your birth partner should be prepared to stay for the duration of labor and delivery.
“Your partner will be asked to not leave the hospital during your stay,” Dr. Salzetti says. “Our hospitals will offer to provide food to birth partners and they are encouraged to bring their own refreshments if they wish.”
Your partner will be instructed to follow social distance guidelines, perform good handwashing, limit touching surfaces and always wear facial covering inside the hospital.
You also have the option to use video chat or other social media tool to stay in contact with family members and friends if you wish.
If you plan to have a doula for support, that is the only person who can stay with you and the same COVID-19 rules for birth partners apply.
Some patients are hiring doulas to participate via videoconferencing so their birth partner can be in the delivery room in person.
If you have COVID-19 when your baby is born, your newborn will be tested within 24 hours, which is consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A very small number of babies have tested positive for COVID-19 after birth. The CDC says it’s unlikely they got the virus during pregnancy and more likely that it happened shortly after birth.
If you have COVID-19 but your baby does not, you may be able to share the same room with extra precautions, including wearing a mask while breastfeeding.
There is currently no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through breast milk. The benefits of breastfeeding are believed to outweigh the potential risks of transmitting the virus. Breast milk boosts babies’ immune systems and protects them from certain infections.
Doctors do caution mothers with COVID-19 to wear facial covering around their newborns. The same advice applies to other members of the family.