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Moms switch to birth centers instead of hospitals in wake of COVID-19

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Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 17:40:15-04

INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 concerns are prompting many parents-to-be to make changes to their birthing plans and for some pregnant women, that means opting out of a hospital birth altogether.

Sacred Roots Midwifery and Birth Center on Indy’s west side has seen calls nearly triple since COVID-19 came into the picture.

Tess Everhart, a first time Indianapolis mom-to-be, is due with her baby girl on May 2.

Her initial birthing plan was to do an unmedicated birth at Community North Hospital, but that changed amid COVID-19 and visitor restrictions at local hospitals.

"It was my fear, my husband and I, that he wouldn't be able to be a part of her birth," Everhart said. “It was a decision that we did not make lightly.”

Everhart will now delivery her baby at Sacred Roots Midwifery and Birth Center with her husband at her side.

“We feel really good about it now and we are looking forward to the experience,” Everhart said.

In a typical birth center, babies are delivered by midwives which are similar to nurse practitioners, moms are unmedicated, and they’re given the option of returning home shortly after birth.

"We'll be able to return home pretty quickly after we give birth so that was also something we were concerned with spending the night in the hospital and people coming in and out, so we feel a lot more relieved with our changes," Everhart said.

RTV6 counted only seven licensed birth centers in the state of Indiana, however, many hospitals also offer birth centers.

Sacred Roots is the only free-standing one in central Indiana.

"Out of hospital birth is not the option for every family,” Angela Lyttle, owner of Sacred Roots Midwifery and Birth Center, said. “This is for low-risk healthy women with low-risk pregnancies. I am hearing about women doing free birth and not having any provider present at their home alone and that scares me a lot honestly. I don't consider that a safe option. "

Sacred Roots is screening everyone who comes into the building including partners and doulas, and staff are wearing makes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Indiana Hospital Association released the following statement to RTV6:

"Indiana hospitals and their maternal health providers work every day to provide the safest environment for moms and babies. This is especially true during the COVID-19 public health emergency. While we do track data on births in hospitals, we won’t have information on trends during the COVID-19 outbreak until later in the spring.

We strongly urge pregnant women with questions about COVID-19 or who are experiencing any anxiety during this time to contact their OBGYN or healthcare provider."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, American Academy of Family Physicians, and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine released this statement.

“As the physicians, certified nurse-midwives (CNM) and certified midwives (CM) who care for patients and their families, we see firsthand the stress and uncertainty facing pregnant people, parents, and their support networks during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are listening to the people we care for and share their concerns about the impact of this pandemic on their intended plans for labor and birth. We stand in solidarity with our patients and are committed to working tirelessly to deliver evidence-based, respectful, patient-centered care to ensure parents and their families are supported during this time of pandemic.

Prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care are essential to the health and well-being of patients and infants. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health care team is committed to delivering care in the safest, most respectful and appropriate way possible, including providing the critical support those who are giving birth deserve. Amid the significant strain on the health care system, the entire maternity care team is committed to making sure laboring patients get the support they need to birth confidently, safely and respectfully. Our organizations are rapidly developing and communicating guidance for our members and their patients based on the best available evidence to help inform their provision of care amid the pandemic.

Patients who are questioning the settings in which to give birth should have access to the most accurate health information about safety and risk. Hospitals and birth centers that are both licensed and accredited remain safe places to give birth in the United States. Effective communication is essential in this time of increased stress and uncertainty and we encourage pregnant patients to stay with the health care professionals who have been providing their care and talk with their physician or midwife about their concerns regarding labor support and safe birth care. This is especially true in some COVID-19 hot spots where hospitals are being forced to make difficult decisions as they confront significant challenges caused by the pandemic. Physicians, certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives, and the entire health care team will work to ensure that precautions are taken to make labor and delivery as safe as possible for their patients.

The safety and well-being of families and communities is of paramount importance. We are committed to providing quality, patient-centered care to pregnant patients and their infants during this challenging time.”