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Childbirth & COVID-19: What to Expect During and After Your Delivery

June 1, 2020 - Dr. Elizabeth Mosier

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of anxiety over the past several months, especially among pregnant women who are inching closer and closer to their due dates.

Pregnancy and preparing for childbirth can be stressful at the best of times, and I know the new coronavirus has been causing my patients serious strain.

Here are answers to questions you may have about delivering a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Would it be safer if I just have a home birth and stay away from the hospital?

Where you deliver is your choice. However, life-threatening pregnancy complications can be unpredictable with little or no warning. Sometimes the patient with a completely routine, uncomplicated pregnancy can have the most difficult delivery. When these complications occur, a hospital setting can quickly care for you and your baby.

Studies have shown that babies born at home have more than twice the risk of death compared to babies born in a hospital. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and I believe that the safest place for you to give birth is a hospital or hospital-based birth center.

What should I do to prepare for my delivery?

To decrease your risk of acquiring COVID-19 prior to delivery, we encourage our patients to self-quarantine at home two weeks prior to the expected delivery date — around 37 to 38 weeks gestation.

This means staying at home and avoiding visitors or shopping trips. Your doctor can provide you with documentation if you are still working.

We are also talking to our patients about possible elective delivery at 39 weeks to limit the number of visits to labor and delivery departments. This is not mandatory, and is a discussion between you and your obstetrician. Anyone who is scheduled to be induced or for a cesarean section is tested for COVID-19 six days before her scheduled delivery. The hospital is also working on more expedited testing for deliveries in cases where more urgent delivery is needed.

During your labor and delivery, one visitor is allowed — and all patients and visitors are given a mask at admission. We recommend you wear a mask during your labor and delivery to help protect other patients and staff.

All doctors and nurses are using appropriate masks and personal protective equipment during your delivery and hospital stay.

What about after my delivery?

To minimize your time in the hospital, Houston Methodist is trying to expedite discharges to get you and your family home as soon as safely possible. The time in the hospital will vary depending on the mother and baby, as well as the care team, but we are aiming to send families home one day after an uncomplicated vaginal birth, and two days after an uncomplicated cesarean birth.

If you are interested in long-acting birth control like the depo-shot, a Nexplanon (arm implant) or an IUD (intrauterine device), these may be able to be placed before you leave the hospital to avoid an in-person visit. Please talk to your doctor about your birth control options. Postpartum care in the clinic can be provided via video visit or in-person when necessary.

What precautions should I take with my newborn?

According to the CDC, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While there have been cases in infants, they are much less common that adult cases.

The same precautions you took before giving birth apply while caring for your newborn:

  • Stay at home
  • Avoid having visitors and avoid sick people
  • Practice proper hand washing frequently, especially prior to holding or feeding your infant

 

Children younger than the age of two should not wear a mask due to the risk of suffocation.

Lastly, I know that you want to show off your beautiful new addition to your family and friends, but right now the safest option is via pictures and video. People over the age of 65 are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, so grandma and grandpa should stay home for now.

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