Expectant moms face new restrictions at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. Many hospitals now only allow one person, and sometimes, no family member or spouse at all are allowed to be with them during their baby's delivery.
"A lot of moms sort of panicked,” said Dr. Skeete Henry, an OBGYN. “The New York hospitals decided they're going to cancel all visitations, and moms were essentially going to have to labor by themselves."
The new changes are causing some expectant moms to choose a home birth during this time. Dr. Henry says she's seen more of her patients consider it.
"I think the virus has definitely increased that number,” she said. “Just in speaking with some of the home birth and birthing center midwives, they're getting a lot of calls from patients wanting to convert to a home birth.”
It’s the option new mother Barb Volk went with when delivering her baby.
"With the chaos of COVID-19, about month eight or so, and especially once I started hearing about how New York made the rule of no spouses in the room and hearing about women having to labor wearing the masks, I just thought to myself, ‘I just don’t think that’s going to work for me,’" said Volk.
Volk says after having a healthy, natural birth with her first child, she decided that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her second would be born at home.
She gave birth Easter Sunday to her son, Maverick. Her OBGYN did several home visits before and after the birth.
"Deliver at home or delivering at a birthing center really became front and center for some of my moms," said Dr. Henry.
Expectant mom Isabella El Sheikh is due on May 24 with her first child. She always considered a home birth, but now with many hospitals inundated with COVID-19 patients, she knows for sure it is what she wants.
"It was a big game change," said El Sheikh. "I wanted my husband there. I wanted my family and his family to come and visit in the room afterwards."
While home births are ideal for some, they're not for everybody.
"We've had to screen, and really it's for low-risk, healthy moms; babies that have had no issues during the pregnancy," said Dr. Henry.
While expectant moms are encouraged to speak with their doctor about whether a home birth is an option for them, doctors are assuring moms that medical staff are still taking extra safety measures for women who are giving birth at hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.