And the facets of life that COVID-19 continue to affect keep growing, as doctors in some New York hospitals are banning birth partners from delivery rooms.
This world is a hodgepodge of social distancing, mitigating, ‘sheltering-in-place,’ staying home and more. State governments across the United States are restricting flows of traffic and contact people have with the closings of schools and non-essential businesses and the limiting of numbers of people who can gather.
Now, NewYork-Presbyterian hospitals are adding new restrictions to their labor and delivery departments, banning birth partners from delivery rooms. This means that moms cannot have their partners/spouses/mothers/sisters with them, nor can they have doulas or even midwives unless they are on hospital staff already.
#COVID19 Update: March 22, 2020
— NewYork-Presbyterian (@nyphospital) March 22, 2020
Over the weekend, officials at New York-Presbyterian said that though they understood this would be difficult for patients and loved ones, their network of 13 cooperating hospitals was barring all visitors for adult patients. This includes birth partners and support persons for laboring mothers. Calling it a move to promote the safety of new mothers and children, the intent is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to new moms or babies.
The policy went into effect today, and don’t fall in line with what the World Health Organization recommends for laboring mothers right now. Even the New York Department of Health recommends laboring moms be allowed one support person present during their stay. They consider one support person essential to patient care from labor to postpartum. The NY Health Department also gave examples of the support person; spouse, partner, sibling, doula. They should be the one and only person allowed and should be screenings for symptoms of COVID-19 before they’re admitted.
As for WHO, they advocate for pregnant patients to have safe and positive childbirth, and this would warrant having a singular companion of choice present during their delivery.
As expected, the move on New York-Presbyterian’s part was met with resistance, as many pregnant moms believe the taking of birthing support for women not to be a best practice.
So many people are concerned with the policy, a Change.org petition urging the hospital to change the birthing partners ban has already received over 113,000 (as of the time of this reporting) virtual signatures. Citing examples of a laboring patient possibly being unable to notify a nurse in the event of an emergency (like an eclamptic seizure) should she be alone, the petition deems this practice unsafe medically as well.
Other hospital systems in New York allow laboring moms to have one healthy visitor, as do hospital systems in California, which is another high-infectious rate state.
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