Pregnant Women Are Opting For Home Births As Hospitals Prepare For COV-19

Jessica Breitschwerdt already felt excited to have her first child born. She signed up for a doula, a birthing class, and a tour of the hospital in Maryland where she was hoping to deliver in mid May. She then saw an article posted for new moms in a social media forum, indicating that infants had screened the COV-19 for positive. Soon after, she learned that her hospital tour had been canceled and her birthing class had been cancelled.

Then Holy Cross Germantown Hospital announced that it was limiting visitors to one person per patient, which meant that Breitschwerdt would have to choose between having her husband, mother or doula beside her on the most important day of her life. Photos of overcrowded hospitals in Italy came to mind and the thoughts of Breitschwerdt started to spiral. As pregnant women across the country are wrestling with anxieties, midwifery practices report a significant increase in requests for alternatives to hospital delivery.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 percent of all births in the country occur at home, and about 9 percent are delivered by licensed nurse midwives. But the decision to deliver at home or at a birth center has suddenly become a soothing choice for millions of pregnant women worried about spreading the virus in hospitals.

We see six to ten births per month, and yesterday we had 12 inquiries, said Wednesday Nannette Jenkins, a certified nurse-midwife at Riverside Midwifery in Buckeystown, Md. Only yesterday, this is worth two months of value. And I just feel like it’s just started. Many midwives are sending letters to medical professionals and government officials, urging them to remove limits on their activities so that they can help relieve hospitals which will soon be overwhelmed.

Many states allow physician supervision to license registered nurse midwives, while others do not license midwives who are not qualified as nurses as well. Home birth does not reduce the chance of a mother already infected passing the virus to a neonate. Some adverse infant outcomes have been registered, such as preterm birth, among infants born to mothers who tested positive for the virus. It’s not clear if those findings were linked to the infection of the mother. Based on the state limits, midwives teach in clinics, birth centers and patient homes. 22 States have imposed limits on nurse-midwives licenses.

Virginia is one of the states requiring a registered nurse midwife to provide proof of an arrangement with a licensed physician on joint practice. A research carried out in 2018 showed that states that have done the most to incorporate midwives into their healthcare systems had some of the best birth outcomes. The study found that midwives should not treat high-risk births, but note the benefit of their relationships with patients. M.A.M.S. makes late transfers “on a case-by – case basis,” says Kathy Peacock, nurse-midwife.

The practice had been booked complete for July but in May and June there were still some gaps. One lady, when she wanted to commit to a home birth, was just a day away from her due date. He was worried that her doctor could be stopping her husband from entering the delivery room. Chelle Wilson, 34, from West Virginia, has been pregnant for 27 weeks and is afraid to give birth in a hospital. She’s afraid people in her community don’t take the virus seriously enough. She has had six previous miscarriages. I can’t, I can’t lose one more child, she says.

Note – As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, We are committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments.

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