It’s safe to deliver babies in the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic

If you’re pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have questions or concerns about your upcoming delivery in the hospital and keeping yourself and your family healthy.

Jade Elliott spoke with Angela Anderson, a certified nurse midwife with Intermountain Healthcare, to answer some common questions women may have as they anticipate delivering their baby during these unusual times on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast.

Should I be worried about delivering my baby in the hospital during the pandemic?

No. Intermountain Healthcare is committed to making sure you and your baby have the safest birthing experience possible. We’re taking every necessary precaution against exposure to COVID-19 to ensure the risk is extremely low. We’ve also prepared for any other potential complications of pregnancy that, even if rare, can cause concern.

What should I do to prepare for my delivery?

For most healthy women, their delivery experience will be the same, except for the change in hospital visitor restrictions.

New hospital visitor restrictions

Currently, Intermountain hospitals limit OB patient visitors to one healthy support person for the duration of the hospital stay. It will be mother’s choice: The baby’s father counts as a visitor. A doula counts as a visitor. Check with your provider about adoptive situations.

Healthy newborn patients may have both parents as visitors.

Newborn intensive care (NICU) patients may have one visitor/guardian per 24 hours. However, there can be no more than two people designated as visitors/guardians throughout the entire hospital stay.

Moms can encourage loved ones to use technology to connect with her during her hospital stay if desired. Hospital staff are available to assist if needed.

Moms can help family and friends know that although they are excited to see your new baby, it will be best to wait until you and the baby come home, and risks of infection are lower following the pandemic. Ask your provider for guidance about visitors after you return home.

Hospital visitation for surrogacy or adoption situations are managed on a case per case basis. Discussions on what to expect and instructions for that special day should be coordinated in advance.

Women who are themselves positive for COVID-19, or who are suspected to have it, will not be able to have visitors in the room during their stay to limit the chances of viral exposure. Experienced hospital staff are ready to help you during this important time in a way that is both safe and comfortable.

Do I need to be delivered early if I’m COVID-19 positive (or suspected to have the virus)?

No. The COVID-19 infection is not a reason for an early delivery. In fact, it may be better to wait for your delivery until after your symptoms have resolved and you are no longer shedding the virus. This may reduce the risk to your newborn and healthcare workers from becoming exposed to the virus too.

At this time, some women are still being offered the option to have their labor induced. This usually occurs if there is an increased risk to the mother or baby from continuing the pregnancy. We will continue to offer normal obstetric care based on the usual indications. We don’t recommend early delivery to avoid exposure to the virus.

Hospital staff are prepared to care for COVID-19 patients who need to deliver their baby

Our hospital staff is ready and prepared to care for you and your baby safely if you have COVID-19 symptoms, are COVID-19 positive or are awaiting COVID-19 test results. We have care protocols and personal protective equipment to keep everyone safe and healthy.

If I do get sick, how do I protect my newborn?

If you do get sick near your delivery date with confirmed, or suspected, COVID-19, there are special precautions to be aware of. Though new mothers might not be at higher risk themselves, it’s important to avoid passing the virus to a newborn. Early research has not shown any evidence that the virus can be transmitted in utero, during delivery, or through breast milk.

But transmission can occur after birth when infants are in close contact with someone who has the illness. For this reason, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends avoiding rooming-in (baby sharing the same room) for new mothers with diagnosed or suspected COVID-19 infections. The CDC also recommends that ill women who would like to provide breast milk for their infant use a breast pump, being sure to practice good pumping hygiene.

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.