The 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. Note that every health system has their own policies and ultimately it’s best to ask your provider to learn more about your local hospital’s policies.
What will my labor and delivery experience be like if I have COVID or have been exposed?
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. 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, wear masks, and put on additional protective clothing when they are around anyone even suspected of having the virus. They wash their hands routinely, and completely sanitize any areas thought to have been contaminated. And, at this point, most healthcare workers have received a COVID-19 vaccine. You can verify if your hospital requires healthcare worker vaccination by checking out their website or calling.
Anyone thought to have COVID-19 is kept away from people considered to be healthy. If you do not have COVID, then except for the precautions related to COVID-19 (like mask requirements), 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?
Most likely. Some hospitals temporarily banned all visitors including partners in the spring of 2020, but this decision was reversed. Almost all hospitals are allow 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. Visitors will likely be required to wear masks. 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. These policies are in place to reduce the risk of infection for you, your baby, and the other people who are in the hospital. Check in with your healthcare provider to find out your facility’s policy and be aware that these policies can change at any time to be more or less restrictive.
Will I be able to go home early?
Most likely. Many hospitals are encouraging discharge one day after a vaginal delivery and two days after a cesarean for parents 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. This is a shared decision, so it’s a good idea to think ahead to what you may want postpartum.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
Updated March 8, 2022