Answers to commonly asked questions about labor and delivery during the COVID-19 crisis

We know many expecting moms and their partners have a specific birthing experience in mind and have imagined what it will be like to bring their newborn baby home. Given COVID-19, we have made some changes which are intended to help keep our patients, staff and communities safe and reduce the possible spread of COVID-19. During this unprecedented time, many expecting moms and partners wonder how this will affect their birthing experience and their newborn baby. To help you learn how we are protecting you and your baby, we’ve included answers to commonly asked questions below.

If I need to come in for my appointment, can I bring someone with me?

We kindly ask that you don’t bring anyone with you to your prenatal appointments, unless you have a physical disability or need authorized caregiver support. In order to protect our staff and patients, we are restricting visitors in our hospital and clinics during the pandemic.

If I need to come in for my appointment, what can I do to stay safe?

When you come in for appointments, we ask that you wear a mask or cloth face covering over your mouth and nose prior to and during the entire visit unless a clinician asks you remove it.

Are education classes canceled?

Currently we are offering virtual childbirth classes. For more information on dates and times please call Esme at 310-691-4133 or Rebecca at 209-614-1126. We are also planning to start in-person classes with proper social distancing. Please contact the childbirth educator at the number above for the latest information.

Can I tour the hospital where I plan to deliver my baby?

To limit the spread of COVID-19, we’re not offering in-person tours of our hospital or labor and delivery unit.

Should I make any changes to my labor and delivery plans?

No. We have taken every precaution to ensure your safety and that of your newborn baby while in the hospital. The timing and method of your delivery (vaginal or cesarean) don’t need to be changed and should be discussed with your physician. We’re here to take care of you throughout your labor and delivery.

What will happen when I go into labor?

If you’re having labor pains, your water breaks or you can’t feel the baby move, please call your provider or come to the hospital.

When you arrive at the hospital, someone will ask you about COVID-19 symptoms and take your temperature. If you have a cough, fever, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell, let them know.

How many visitors can I have during my labor and delivery and hospital stay?

In order to protect you and your baby, we have temporary visitor restrictions in place for our labor and delivery and postpartum unit in our Birth Center.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we’re limiting the number of visitors allowed during and after your baby’s birth. At this time, mothers can have one healthy adult stay during labor, delivery and postpartum. The visitor must be the same person every day. For example, dad can’t go home and then have grandma take his place.

Any visitor showing symptoms of COVID-19 or those who do not pass the screening will be asked to leave the hospital.

These changes to our visitation policy will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases and protect the health of all of our patients and caregivers. We understand that this is frustrating and inconvenient, but we assure you that you and your family will have proper support while these restrictions are in place.

For your safety and the safety of others, upon arrival at the hospital, someone will ask your labor partner about COVID-19 and take his or her temperature. Your labor partner will be required to remain in your room throughout your stay. Our waiting rooms won’t be available. You and your partner may want to bring items to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

How will you protect me and my baby from getting COVID-19 during the labor and delivery process?

When it’s time to go to the hospital to have your baby, your care team will take extra precautions to protect you and your newborn:

  • Patients who have COVID-19, or are suspected of having COVID-19, are placed in a negative air pressure room in the Birth Center.
  • Everyone, including associates entering our hospitals and clinics, will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Universal masking, including patients and visitors, is required to prevent the spread of infection to others.
  • Our staff is required to wear proper personal protective equipment which may include mask, face shield, gown and gloves.
  • We’ve implemented visitor restrictions and physical distancing throughout our locations in order to minimize the number of people in our facilities.
  • We’ve heightened our cleaning protocols throughout all areas of our hospitals and clinics. All spaces are disinfected multiple times throughout the day to ensure a clean and safe environment.

Should I bring my baby in for a well-child visit during the COVID-19 crisis?

Yes, in most cases, you should bring your baby in for a scheduled well-child visit. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you continue well-child visits and immunizations for your baby. These infant preventive visits generally take place in the following order after delivery: 2 to 3 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months and 18 months.

Before your appointment, you’ll be screened over the phone for COVID-19 symptoms. If you and your child aren’t showing any symptoms, you’ll most likely be scheduled for an in-person visit. However, if any symptoms develop between the time you set up the appointment and the visit, you must reschedule. Also, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, only one parent or caregiver may come with the child to the visit.

Am I at increased risk for COVID-19 during pregnancy?

COVID-19 is a new disease, so information on how the virus affects women who are pregnant is limited. Based on the most current information, pregnant women don’t appear to be more likely to get infected with COVID-19 than other people. Current reports also show that pregnant women who get the virus don’t have more severe symptoms than others.

We do know that pregnant women experience changes in their bodies and immune systems that make them more likely to get viral respiratory infections, like the flu, with more serious complications.

What should I do if I have COVID-19?

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, follow the advice from the CDC and your OB/GYN provider or other health care professional. The current CDC guidelines for those with COVID-19 includes the following:

  • Stay home except to get medical care. Avoid public transportation.
  • Speak with your healthcare team over the phone before going to their office.
  • Get medical care right away if you feel worse or think it’s an emergency.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home.
  • Wear a face mask when you are around other people and when you go to get medical care.

How do I protect myself from COVID-19 during my pregnancy?

Stay at home and use physical distancing. If possible, self-isolate in your home. This means spending all or most of your time in a separate area.

  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water and wash for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses to avoid touching your eyes.
  • Wear a mask when you are near people. If you must go out of your home for an essential reason, be sure to stay six feet away from others.

Can I travel if I’m pregnant?

Due to the current risk of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continually updating its travel recommendations for all citizens. We recommend you review and consider these recommendations before traveling. Please see the CDC’s coronavirus travel recommendations for the latest updates.

How do I keep my newborn safe once we get home form the hospital?

While you’re eager to introduce your newborn to your friends and family, it’s more important to keep your baby safe and healthy. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Ensure that you wash your hands with soap and water before providing general care and feeding to your baby.
  • It’s best to limit the number of people who touch or hold your baby. Instead of in-person visits, consider video calls or sharing pictures online with friends and family.
  • When visitors do come, make them wash their hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer often and maintain at least six feet of distance.
  • No one with a cough, cold or fever should visit the baby.
  • Your friends and family can still help by dropping off diapers, bags of groceries and prepared meals. All items should be left at your front door.

Can COVID-19 pass to a baby through breast milk?

Researchers are still learning if COVID-19 can pass through breast milk and cause infection in the baby. Most information shows that it is safe to feed breast milk to your baby when you have COVID-19.

Remember that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most babies. Breast milk also helps protect babies from infections, including infections of the ears, lungs, and digestive system. For these reasons, having COVID-19 should not stop you from giving your baby breast milk.

We encourage you to discuss the decision about whether to breastfeed your baby with your provider. If you have COVID-19, or you’re waiting for test results, take extra care to avoid spreading it to your baby:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before touching the baby.
  • Wear a face mask while breastfeeding.
  • If using a breast pump, wash your hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use.

By taking these important safety precautions, you’ll help keep your baby healthy and still bond during this special time.

What should I do if my child has COVID-19 symptoms?

The most important thing you can do is keep your child home and away from others. Because COVID-19 can have the same symptoms as many viruses, including the flu, you should keep your child away from any high-risk adults (even if you don’t know for sure your child has COVID-19) until they’re symptom-free for 72 hours. This includes keeping your child away from anyone over 65, anyone with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women, if possible.

Care for your child as you would for someone with any typical cough or cold. Cold and cough medications aren’t recommended for children under six. If you’re worried about your child’s illness, or if their symptoms are moderate, severe or not going away, please call your provider for advice.