Ask an OB: Labor During COVID
Image via @slayathomemother

We asked Karianne Silverman, M.D. Obstetrics + Gynecology to answer some of your most pressing questions. Here's what she said. 

MAMAS please note: information on COVID-19 is changing daily.  The below is a Q & A that took place on May 20th.  Our team is working to provide the most up to date information as it becomes available.

1) What should I bring or not bring to the hospital?

Really, you don’t need to bring anything but yourself.  Hospitals are equipped to provide you the necessary things to care for yourself and your infant during your stay.  If you have items that provide comfort or you want to use, bring them. To my knowledge, there have not been restrictions regarding comfort items at present.

Some hospitals are restricting support persons from coming and going from the L&D unit once admitted to reduce contamination. IN addition, many of the typical food vendors inside hospitals have reduced hours or are closed. Check with your provider if your support person should bring food and drink for the duration of your stay. If you have a specific diet you follow, bringing your own supplies of food is a good idea to ask your provider about.

2) What changes can I expect when I arrive?

Most hospitals are screening patients upon entrance to the hospital multiple times including taking temperatures and asking questions regarding viral symptoms.  Please don’t be annoyed or afraid.  This is to identify and provide help to those who could be infected as well as to protect healthcare workers from infection.  In addition, most healthcare workers are wearing face masks of some kind all the time during all patient interactions- ones involving suspected infection and ones involving no suspicion at all.  Again, this is to provide them protection and in accordance with their hospital and various medical society guidelines. 

Another big change is the restriction regarding support persons. Most hospitals are restricting the number of labor support persons to one. Many hospitals are even restricting the ability to switch out persons. So, in other words, the support person who arrives with a patient must stay and no substitutions are allowed.  While this feels harsh and sad, this is not done with the intention to diminish or negatively impact your personal birth event.  It is done to provide everyone as much safety during this pandemic as possible.

3) Will hospitals have space for me to give birth?

The short answer is yes.  I have heard of some units in small hospitals being repurposed as units for COVID care.  In these instances, patients who were supposed to deliver in these units have been routed to a different hospital for delivery at the direction of their OB/GYN or provider.  However, I have not heard of any issues regarding lack of availability for inpatient labor care.


4) What effect does COVID have on breastfeeding?

In limited case series, there is no evidence of COVID virus being found in the breast milk of women who test COVID-19 (+). The current primary concern is not whether the virus can be transmitted through the breastmilk but rather whether an infected mother can transmit the virus through respiratory droplets during the time spent breastfeeding. A mother who is confirmed COVID-19 (+) or who is symptomatic and testing is pending should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant including washing her hands and breasts before feeding the infant and wearing a face mask while breastfeeding or while using a breast pump to express milk. If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.

5) Is it safe for family to visit my baby?

This is certainly a difficult decision. Social distancing is important for everyone but especially for vulnerable populations which includes newborn babies. The beauty of postponing visits is that the infant will never remember when family first came to welcome he or she into the family.  And adults can deal with disappointment, especially when in the best interest of a new and beautiful family member. So, family should be kept to a bare minimum around a new mom and newborn and when possible should be encouraged to schedule visits at a later date when this virus is less prevalent in society.

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