Health professionals who oversee maternity care in a Vancouver Island hospital say maternities are safe for childbirth.
They were responding to a recent Comox Valley Record article suggesting growing interest among couples awaiting birth at home due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the article allowed perinatal providers working with families to discuss plans – as a way to turn fear into action and to look for ways to take control.
“We have talked a lot about pregnancy, childbirth, COVID,” said Dr. Sarah Sandwith. “There have in fact been very important relationships and dialogue…. We are all part of the same team, working for the same goals and values. “
Sandwith and Beth Ebers, registered midwife, act as medical co-leaders for maternity care on the Comox Valley campus at North Island Hospital. They want to point out that hospitals are still safe for deliveries, adding that all healthcare providers strive to protect healthy patients from exposure to the virus and exceptional care for those who may have COVID-19, all ensuring the safety of providers.
“It has been a great opportunity for us to come together as caregivers in the community,” said Ebers.
The hospital’s labor and delivery unit, added Sandwith, was the first on Vancouver Island to develop an intervention strategy for perinatal care in light of the COVID-19 situation. especially in the event that a pregnant woman may already be infected with COVID-19. The hospital was invited to share what it had designed.
Ebers and Sandwith also point out that no one should change their birth plans out of fear. As women spend months building relationships with providers to prepare for childbirth, they say last-minute changes based on fear of COVID can be dangerous for the mother, baby, and family.
Finally, both emphasize that all pregnant women need support. Local hospital and perinatal health partners, including doulas, public health nurses, specialists and primary care providers, are looking for ways to be creative in providing this support while maintaining distancing practices social. On Friday, they spoke with five doulas to discuss the logistics of providing this support.
“We know exactly what everyone is doing,” said Sandwith.
Most health care providers have taken steps such as reducing the number of office visits and the use of telehealth or videoconferencing, or if someone has to go to a clinic, this happens when ‘they are the only ones to visit.
“We take rigorous measures to protect ourselves and them with personal protective equipment, and to clean up the spaces between each visit, so that when people have to come for treatment, it is as safe as possible,” added Sandwith. “We also separated our caregivers. “
An important strategy is to use technology and leverage the resources available in clinics or hospitals to provide virtual support and connection as much as possible, even if physical proximity is limited.
“We have a chance to think outside the box,” said Ebers.
Ebers said she had previously worked through a birth in a virtual setting. In this case, the husband was in the military and was absent when his wife started work.
“I actually had the experience of someone providing virtual support to their partner during the work process …. He was on Skype for hours with her, ”she said.
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