Q: How has COVID-19 impacted childbirth in hospitals?
A: Hospitals are following stricter safety precautions during childbirth to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
As COVID-19 infections became prevalent in March, healthcare professionals at Citizens Medical Center and hospitals around the country adopted a stricter adherence to mask-wearing, hand washing and general infection mitigation measures. These precautions also applied to health-care providers working with expecting mothers.
“When it first began, we didn’t know how long the increased measures would last. But here we are in 2021, and we never stopped. It has become the new normal for us,” said Sherry Lynch, the nurse manager of the birth center at Citizens Medical Center.
Expecting families are limited to one “support person” when visiting the mother in the center, which typically excludes other family members who would typically be present for the procedure.
“It has been really hard to keep out the siblings of the new child or the grandparents, but most of them understand,” Lynch said.
In lieu of waiting to see the newborns at the hospital, many families have opted to wait in the parking lot to support the mothers.
“We have had some tailgating and family members waving in through windows,” Lynch said. “I think it is worth it to them to be close, and it comforts the mother.”
The limited visitation has had unexpected benefits, Lynch said, including an increase in the average number of mothers successfully breastfeeding on the first day. She credits this to the mothers having more alone time with their newborns.
One-week checkups with the new mothers now take place in the birth center instead of the lab where they once were held, she said. That policy was put in place to lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus, and it allows more face time with nurses, she said. Parents are now able to easily ask questions that may have arose after taking the child home.
“More time with a professional to ask questions in those first couple of weeks is critical,” Lynch said. “We plan to continue this practice for the foreseeable future.”