COVID-19, labor, and delivery: Your questions answered

The coronavirus pandemic has left us all with a lot of questions. Here, the Ovia Health clinical team answers your questions about COVID-19, labor, and delivery. 

What will my labor and delivery experience be like?

It is extremely important that you CALL your healthcare provider BEFORE you go to the hospital if you think you have COVID-19 or think you might have been exposed: In one study [1], 88 percent of women with COVID-19 in labor had no symptoms when they arrived. Once at the hospital, your provider knows what to do to reduce the risk that your baby (and the healthcare professionals who care for you) will become infected: health care providers are checked for symptoms before they come to work and wear protective clothing and masks when they are around anyone even suspected of having the virus; they wash their hands routinely, and completely sanitize any area thought to have been contaminated; additionally, anyone thought to have COVID-19 wears a mask to minimize spread, and is kept away from patients considered to be healthy. Except for the extreme precautions related to COVID-19, and the limitations on visitors (see below) your experience is likely to be similar to what it would have been like before this crisis.

Should I consider a home birth given the risk of COVID-19 infection during my Labor and Delivery experience?

Your healthcare provider is taking extraordinary precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission on Labor and Delivery, as well as to take care of women who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Because of this, home birth, which has always been riskier than in-hospital birth, is still not recommended. There are a host of issues related to the COVID-19 epidemic that may make laboring at home even riskier than it normally is. We know that the hospital may appear to be a scary place these days, that policies about how many support people can be present are frustrating, and that some women are staying away at all costs. If you are one of them, please consult your healthcare provider to minimize your risks.

Will my partner be able to come with me when I’m in labor and after delivery?

Yes. A few hospitals in New York temporarily banned all visitors including partners, but this decision was reversed. Almost all hospitals are allowing one support person to accompany you when you are in labor, although there may be increased restrictions on their movement while they are in the hospital with you. When in doubt, ask your healthcare provider about the hospital’s rules.

What about other visitors besides my primary support person?

Visitors, including siblings, extended family members, and even doulas may not be allowed, but your (healthy) partner will be with you when you deliver. These policies are in place to reduce the risk of infection for you, your baby, and the other patients who are in the hospital. 

Will I be able to go home early?

Yes. Most hospitals are encouraging discharge one day after a vaginal delivery and two days after a cesarean for women without health issues or complicated deliveries who are safely able to go home at that time. Of course, hospitals are recommending longer stays for those patients who have a clinical reason to need a few more days in the hospital.

Learn more about the coronavirus

Updated April 27, 2020 

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