Pandemic pregnancy: Labor and delivery protocol changed at UVMMC

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 5:24 AM EDT
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Pregnant women in Vermont are dealing with added stress -- wondering what happens when it's time to give birth?

Protocol at the University of Vermont Medical Center has changed during the pandemic, including a screening requirement at the hospital's entrance and labor nurses and doctors wearing surgical masks at all times.

"Mamas and babies are still happening and we're still taking care of them," said Marti Churchill, the lead certified nurse-midwife at UVMMC.

Churchill says a few things are changing during labor and after.

Only one person is allowed to provide support to the mom in the hospital. That means no doula or extra family members during labor and no visitors after the baby is born.

Once mom and the support person are in a hospital room, they stay there. No walking the halls to help move along labor and no visits to the kitchen.

A core group of pediatric doctors is seeing babies born of healthy mothers and a separate team is caring for infants of mothers who test positive for COVID-19.

Churchill says they haven't had any moms with coronavirus, but the care provided would be different.

"We have two negative pressure rooms sent up in labor and delivery just for that case," said Churchill.

The mother would have to rely on a labor team to help with the birth, meaning no support person would be allowed in the room. It is not mandatory, but it is being recommended that an infected mother agrees to separation from her baby after birth and until 14 days after the initial diagnosis.

"Our goal is to keep her safe and healthy during her labor process and keep baby safe and healthy so they can be reunited as soon as possible," said Churchill.

To prepare families, childhood educators have switched to online classes.

Susan Cline Lucey is the founder of Evolution Prenatal + Family Yoga. In one day she had to move a whole network of support classes for families online, but she's found a groove.

"A lot of fears have been-- people have been reassured by what they're hearing," said Cline Lucey.

Cline Lucey's childbirth education class explains to parents what's going to happen during labor and where it will happen. Usually, she takes families on an in-person tour of UVMMC, but those tours have been stopped.

That's just one change they're talking about during the pandemic.

"I'm all about information and facts because I feel like if we can know what's going on, we can feel safer in the situation that we're in, then we can have the information we need to make the right choices at that time," said Cline Lucey.

She says things are more complicated now that family members and friends can't help as much after the baby is born, so it's important to sign up for classes.

"Take the breastfeeding class so you that have the extra information when you're home trying to feed your baby," said Cline Lucey. "How do you put a diaper on a baby? How do you swaddle? How do you soothe? And with less support in the home after it's so important to be taking the class now before baby is born."

In addition to yoga and education classes, Cline Lucey is also offering a new, free, Saturday morning chat, where moms can swap stories.

This Saturday's chat features Sally MacFayden, a local lactation consultant.

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