Choosing where to deliver your baby is a personal decision. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis may lead you to rethink that decision. Here is some information to help you make the right choice for you.
Where is the safest place to have my baby during the coronavirus pandemic?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), hospitals and birth centers that are licensed and accredited continue to be the safest places to give birth in the United States, despite COVID-19. However, in recent times, there’s been more interest in other childbirth settings and prenatal care providers, such as home birth and midwifery care.
Getting prenatal care, ensuring a safe delivery and getting quality postpartum care are essential to your and your baby’s health. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, health care providers are taking the steps necessary to provide care in the safest, most respectful and appropriate way possible.
What is midwifery care?
Midwifery refers to certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), certified midwives (CMs) or midwives whose education and licensure meet the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Global Standards for Midwifery Education.
Some studies have found that Black women have had negative experiences in traditional hospital settings and have reported that they receive poorer quality care. Midwifery care helps address issues with access to care and helps improve birth outcomes, especially among women of color, in certain circumstances. Some studies suggest that midwifery care can lower interventions (like needing a c-section or pain medicine), can lower health care costs, increase patient satisfaction (happiness) and improve care. Again, it is important to talk with your provider about your situation, your risk factors, and ensure you are getting care at a place and in a manner that is safest for you and your baby.
March of Dimes supports increased access to midwifery care for low- and moderate-risk women as part of an integrated health care system.
Should I give birth at home?
While planned home births are associated with fewer medical interventions than planned hospital births, they also carry an increased risk of infant death, infant seizures, or serious neurologic dysfunction in babies. An unplanned home birth is even more unsafe, according to ACOG.
Even the healthiest pregnancies can have problems arise with little to no warning. If problems occur and you’re giving birth at home, you will probably need to be taken to a hospital. In this situation, it’s important to follow all the recommendations to protect yourself as much as possible from exposure to COVID-19. Similarly, hospitals and healthcare providers are following all the guidelines to minimize exposure as well.
A hospital setting can give you and your baby the best care quickly if issues arise. Hospital staff members are taking great strides to make sure things are clean and that they’re keeping patients, visitors and health care providers safe.
If you are thinking about having a home birth, ACOG recommends that you talk to your health care provider about the benefits and risks of a home birth based on the most recent findings.
What if my pregnancy is high-risk?
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you may need additional medical care before, during or after you have your baby. Talk to your provider about the safety precautions you may need and about choosing a hospital or a certified birthing center that can handle medical emergencies.
CDC: If You Are Pregnant, Breastfeeding, or Caring for Young Children