Birthing Options During The Pandemic: Moms and Care Providers Weigh In

Apr 27, 2020

Physicians, obstetricians & gynecologists, and certified nurse-midwives all agree -- hospitals remain safe places to give birth during the coronavirus pandemic. But the virus is leading some pregnant women to consider alternative birthing options. WHQR checks in with some local moms-to-be and healthcare providers.

Kendra Bentley is a primary school teacher, now working from home while juggling two small kids of her own.  She's also 5 months pregnant – and how she’s feeling?

“You know, pregnant, momming, teaching, and tired, just the typical things you would feel at 21 weeks. Aside from that, just a little cooped up. I feel like a chicken stuck at home, because I really can’t go anywhere, can’t get sick. So, it’s just added anxiety, I guess of being super extra cautious.”

Kendra's also a doula. Doulas provide moms-to-be with nonmedical support during pregnancy with birthing techniques, counseling, and education. 

Whether because of coronavirus or not, she says more women are seeking the help of her organization—Cape Fear Area Doulas:

“We’re just seeing more moms choosing to transfer care, even late term pregnancies are transferring to different home birth options in the area.”

Kendra’s also planning to have her third child at home. And another local teacher Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is doing this, too:

“I'm thankful that I'm planning a home birth because I don't have to worry about going to the hospital unless there are complications. [...] Obviously, I will do whatever I need to do for the health of myself and the baby, but I am hoping that that doesn’t happen because it definitely adds a layer of stress to delivery.” 

Kendra and Elena have been planning a home birth all along... this will be the second home delivery for both.  But for Elena, there's an added incentive this time.

“I've had a few friends that have delivered recently in the past few weeks and having to deal with just being afraid that you’re in a hospital environment right now is scary.”

Suzanne Wertman is a state government affairs consultant for the American College of Nurse-Midwives.  She says home delivery is still rare.

 “Home birth is happening about 1% of the time across the country. I mean there are pockets where it’s happening maybe up to 3% of the time, but it is very, very small slices of what’s actually happening.” 

Wertman says that the American College of Nurse-Midwives approve of home birthing with some stipulations:

“With the right people in the right place at the right time, with the right level of care, and good transfer protocols and good communication and good trust and respect, mutual trust and respect between all the care providers. It can be a really great option for pregnant people with little risk.” 

Laura Schultz is a certified nurse-midwife at Med North Health Center.

Med North serves patients who have Medicaid, are underinsured and uninsured -- and some with private insurance. She says right now having a home birth is a privilege not available to everyone.

“Because if you think about my patients who are in really tough circumstances socially, they might be in an abusive relationship or in poverty or displaced because they’re still suffering from Florence. They can’t easily access home birth midwives.” 

And Schultz wants to remind the community, hospitals are safe, and that,

“They’re going to be safely taken care of by the provider who knows them best -- who has been taking care of them their whole pregnancy.” 

And – Shultz says, a father-to-be, or one support person, is still allowed in the delivery room.

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Click here for the Statement released by The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Nurse-Midwives, and The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine about Patient-Centered Care for Pregnant Patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic.