Keeping Labor and Delivery Safe during COVID-19
[Bre] It is especially important right now to be in the care of medical professionals because of how volatile this virus is. And, being in Mission Hospital with our Level III NICU to me is the best place for you to have your baby right now in case something occurs that is unanticipated.
[Mary] We are asking that one person come and be your support person during your entire stay at the hospital.
[Bre] We also have very supportive labor and delivery nurses that are spending extra time with our patients.
[Mary] During this time it is really difficult, but we will be limiting your visitors. And, I’m really sad that grandparents will not be allowed to visit in the hospital.
[Bre] If a patient who we are concerned has COVID-19, we also have a specific room and a specific protocol in place for those patients to deliver in a safe way as well.
[Mary] You are going to see our nurses and providers in masks and the appropriate gloves.
[Bre] I do want to reassure our women who are coming to the hospital not to be surprised or feel anxious about either staff wearing a mask or us asking the patient to wear a mask. We’re just doing this out of recommendations from the CDC as well as the WHO. And, your safety is still our highest priority.
[Mary] While we have lots of skills, we are going to do our very best not to be shared all around the hospital to limit our exposure so that we can limit your exposure.
[Bre] We’re also looking at our total hospital stay for our moms and trying to simplify and make sure that the only people that are staying for many days postpartum are those who need to be there, or the babies who need to be there. So, if you and your baby are doing well, with your obstetrician’s and pediatrician’s recommendations, we’d like for you to get home sooner if it’s safe to do so.
[Mary] Having your baby with us at Mission is just going to be a day that you never forget. We’re still here to help you have birth your way despite a mask or having less people be at your delivery. We are here to support you in any way that you need, so that you can have a delivery of a lifetime.
Being Pregnant and Having a Newborn during COVID-19
We want our pregnant moms to be doing all of the same things that we’re recommending for the rest of the population, staying at home, practicing social distancing, limiting the number of people that they come into contact with, and limiting the amount of time that they’re spending outside of their home.
Each clinic in the Asheville area is performing their visits in different ways. There are often some telehealth options, as well as phone calls, checking in with blood pressures or blood sugars. As well as simplified ultrasound screenings. And, these are things that you should call your specific physician about.
So, we also know that during pregnancy, twenty-four hours a day a mom can wake up and think that something just doesn’t feel right. And, we want to encourage moms to call at any hour of the day if they’re really concerned that something’s not right with their pregnancy. In addition, if they’re feeling short of breathe, having a fever, a cough, especially in these times, it’s really important for them to call.
We are still always available twenty-four seven for any OB emergency that they feel like they are having. We are very well staffed and ready if woman is worried she’s in preterm labor, if she feels like her baby isn’t moving, if she’s having bleeding or any other concern that she feels she need immediate hospital care, we are here for her.
We haven’t found any of the virus in breast milk, so for our mom’s who are going to be postpartum in the next coming months, we want to reassure them that they can breastfeed as long as they are taking precautions in terms of washing their hands and limiting the amount of respiratory droplets they may have with their infant. We know that breastmilk is the ideal nutrition for babies, so don’t want anyone to hesitate breastfeeding in the postpartum period in this setting.
Do your absolute best to lean on the people who you know are in your life to support you, whether that’s in person or via the multiple technologies that we have to connect with those people. We’ve had a fair number of women who already have experienced anxiety either in or outside of pregnancy, as well as depression. And those things are very real, and we want to support our moms who are experiencing worsening anxiety or depression. Making sure that you are noticing those feelings in yourself, and reaching out to your physician, a friend or your strongest support person and letting them know that you’re experiencing those things.
When I think about a pregnant mom in this time and her postpartum experience, I would say that time with her baby is of the utmost importance and that if the mother is not confirmed positive, then spending time with her baby in the normal way that you would postpartum, skin-to-skin, staying at home, breastfeeding, washing her hands. Those are all things that I would encourage. And, I would encourage mothers that that is still the very best thing that they can do for their babies at this time. And, what a great excuse to say, “I’m sorry. I have to stay at home for six whole weeks for my baby.” And, to try to really enjoy this time at home as a new family with a new family member, and try and be as calm and bubble yourself off as much as possible during scary times.
Coming to the Hospital on the Day of Your Baby’s Birth
[Bre] Entrance number nine is where laboring mothers should come. They are welcome to come to that spot. They will be welcomed by one of our staff and screened upon entry to determine if they perhaps need a mask or need extra precautions, and then they’ll come up to Labor and Delivery.
[Mary] We have a perinatal navigator. Her name is Martha Hill, and she is available to help guide you through the scary time as well. If you have a high-risk pregnancy and you just have more questions, she’s available by phone. While many people are choosing not to come to the Breastfeeding Center, those lactation consultants are available by phone. You can still call our number, 213-1103, to talk to one of our breastfeeding councilors, and they are just very good at helping even over the phone to reassure you that everything you’re doing to breastfeed your baby is the right thing to do and can help you with difficulties.
[Bre] It is especially important right now to be in the care of medical professionals, because of how volatile this virus is. Being in Mission Hospital with our Level III NICU to me is the best place for you to have your baby right now in case something occurs that is unanticipated.
[Mary] We have fantastic mother-baby staff that are going to teach you everything you need to know as quickly as possible, especially if we can work towards an early discharge for you and your baby.
[Bre] One of the things that has been really calming for me as an OB/GYN is that babies just keep being born, and that newborns are brave and they keep coming out and their lives just continue in spite of this scary virus. And, it’s a joy for us to still see babies be born every day at Mission Hospital.
[Mary] Having your baby with us at Mission is just going to be a day that you never forget, and we’re still here to help have birth your way, despite a mask or having less people be at your delivery. We are here to support you in any way that you need, so that you can have the delivery of a lifetime.