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Preparing for Birth during COVID-19

The Top Things to Know
By Kevin M. Madsen, MD

If you are expecting, you may be feeling uncertain about what to anticipate when you go into labor. Rest assured that the health and safety of you and your baby are the highest priority. Maternal Fetal Medicine Obstetrician Gynecologist (OB/GYN), Kevin Madsen, MD, answers questions and addresses common concerns about delivering during a global pandemic.

What should I pack?
Ensuring that you have the essential items you and baby will need during your hospital stay can go a long way in providing additional comfort. Although many hospitals are allowing moms and babies to go home earlier, it’s important to bring the essentials you may need for your stay as there may be restrictions on how often your support person can leave the hospital. Take time choosing things that you and your partner need as well as items that will provide you with comfort and peace of mind. Items to consider include:

Essential Items

  • Face mask
  • Comfortable clothing, underwear and non-slip socks
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Hairbrush/hair ties or clips
  • Phone/charger

Comfort Items

  • Your pillow
  • Cozy robe and/or slippers
  • Warm blanket
  • Favorite toiletries such as lotion or lip balm
  • A book to read

What can I expect at the hospital?
While hospital policies vary, many are making adjustments such as how many visitors you may have and/or how long you and your baby will stay in the hospital post-delivery. Several new measures have been implemented to minimize risk, providing additional protection for patients and clinical staff.

When arriving at the hospital, you will be screened for COVID-19. Your support person can expect to have their temperature checked and receive a symptom screening. The results of your screening will determine the level of personal protective equipment (PPE) your medical team wears during your labor and delivery. These results will also determine the level of interaction you may have with staff and visitors during your stay.

Masks and protective equipment
Especially during a global pandemic, the health and safety of you and your baby are the highest priority. While many aspects of your labor and delivery experience may be no different than pre-COVID-19, you can expect that your care team will be wearing more PPE. The level of their protective gear will range from a mask and gloves to full PPE. If it is confirmed that you are positive for COVID-19, you may be required to wear a protective mask during various stages of your labor.

Support & visitors  
Many hospitals will allow one support person during your labor, delivery and post-delivery stay. Some restrictions, such as not allowing your support person to leave the grounds, are in place in some hospitals. Check with your hospital prior to delivery to make yourself aware of any protocols they may have.

Post-delivery stay
Before COVID-19, patients with vaginal deliveries were discharged 48 hours post-delivery and 72 hours for those who delivered via cesarean section. Many hospitals are offering an earlier discharge at 24 hours as medically appropriate.  

What do I tell my loved ones who plan to visit?
Navigating the early days of parenthood can be challenging in the best of times. For many, the birth of a baby is a time of celebration with family and friends. With shelter-in-place orders being lifted in many communities, now is a good time to decide on how you plan to handle those who would like to visit and meet your new baby. If you decide that you are comfortable with allowing close friends and/or family to visit, consider establishing guidelines for guests such as:

  • Limiting the number of visitors
  • Keeping visits short
  • Asking them to avoid kissing or touching the baby’s face
  • Wearing a mask
  • Washing their hands

Talk with your OB/GYN about your concerns and ask any questions you may have. Knowing what to expect as you prepare for the delivery of your baby can go a long way in soothing your fears. To schedule an appointment with your obstetrician or gynecologist, call 1.888.MY.DMG.DR (1.888.693.6437) or schedule an appointment online.

Topics and Subtopics: Pregnancy & Women's Health

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