Delivering a baby during COVID-19

By The Health News Team | December 10, 2020
Pregnant belly with mask

The pandemic may have shut down a lot of activity in San Diego, but it hasn’t stopped parents from welcoming newborns. Nurses at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Sharp Grossmont Hospital and Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns report busy obstetrics departments — exactly, ahem, 9 months after lockdown started.
While it’s too soon to tell whether the influx will continue or taper out, it has put stress on caregivers to create and enforce guidelines to keep families and new babies safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pregnancy and childbirth is a special time, and while no one wants to restrict visitors or alter birth plans, safety is always Sharp’s first priority. So if you’re delivering at a Sharp hospital during this pandemic, here are some important things to keep in mind.

  1. Rules and precautions can change
    As COVID-19 cases fluctuate, and San Diego faces various precautionary tiers, so do the guidelines on delivering at Sharp facilities. Staff understand that this is a treasured life event, and work hard to accommodate labor needs and preferences. However, be aware that some flexibility is needed in terms of visitation guidelines, bed placements, and levels of testing and COVID-19 protections.

  2. You are allowed one support person
    You will not labor alone. Every woman delivering at a Sharp hospital is allowed one support person. This must be the same person throughout the duration of your stay, and they can stay with you as you recover. As long as both the mom and the support person are COVID-negative, the support person can leave the hospital and come back as needed. At this time, no outside doulas are permitted.

  3. Visitors are not permitted
    To keep babies, new moms and hospital staff safe, no visitors are allowed at this time. Unfortunately, this includes siblings who would like to meet the new baby. To bridge the distance, staff suggest new parents bring a device that allows family members to video chat until they can return home and connect in person. However, it’s important to note that new babies don’t have a fully developed immune system so, upon returning home, keep up your social distancing and only allow interactions between your newborn and those in your immediate household.

  4. You will be tested for COVID-19
    Upon arrival to the hospital, you will be tested for COVID-19. For those who test positive, extra staff precautions will be taken, such as enhanced protective gear. Babies born to COVID-positive mothers will not be separated from their mother after birth. However, extra precautions will be put in place to protect new babies.

  5. Standard COVID-19 precautions apply
    As is the rule at all Sharp hospitals, masks must be worn at all times. This includes during labor. Even if a pregnant mom’s COVID-19 test comes back negative, variances in tests or test timing could bring back an inaccurate result. However, if a laboring mom is finding a mask to be intolerable, staff will work with her to come up with a solution that helps ease her delivery while still keeping those around her safe from infection.

Having a baby during a pandemic may not be ideal, but with an open mind and a bit of extra planning, your delivery experience doesn’t have to drastically change. Nurses and staff suggest that, in addition to packing standard items for your hospital stay, you include a few extras to keep you comfortable. These include your favorite snacks, extra chargers or battery packs for your devices, and any preferred protective gear, such as face shields, face coverings and hand sanitizers.
As you welcome your new bundle into the world, pandemic hardships — though they won’t disappear completely — will soon be the last thing you focus on or remember.

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