Samantha Radisch and her husband Scott have been anxiously waiting for May first, the due date for their first child. Radisch had the birth of her child mapped out to the letter — Scott and her mother would be in the delivery room to support her, and members of both of their families would be in the waiting room, ready to meet the new baby.
Now, as Covid-19 sweeps around the world, the Annapolis, Maryland couple is coming to terms with a new reality. Radisch, 28, was told this week that due to the coronavirus, she will not be allowed to have any visitors when she gives birth to her daughter, and only her husband will be allowed inside the hospital with her, though that is subject to change as well.
Obstetricians are telling pregnant patients their birth plans will need to change
“I’ve been going to the doctor every few weeks because I’m in my third trimester, and they’ve been making comments about how they were limiting people who could actually be in the delivery room,” Radisch told RADIO.COM. “On Tuesday I had my 32-week appointment and they basically broke down and said ‘we’re changing everything.’”
Hospitals around the country are rushing to prepare for an onslaught of Covid-19 patients, and are following CDC guidelines to limit unnecessary patients and visitors. Some hospitals are not allowing visitors in any wards, while some will make exceptions for specific situations, like support visitors for women giving birth.
However, the few visitors that are allowed inside do not have the freedom to come and go, because that could increase their risk of transmitting infection. Melissa Harley, president of the doula organization DONA International, told ProPublica “We’re telling people to bring extra food and clothes, because once they enter that birthing room, they may not be able to leave.”
Radisch is not alone: close to a million women in the United States will give birth in the next three months and face similar scenarios.
How expectant parents are preparing for their child's birth in the face of Covid-19
The couple knows they will be pre-screened for Covid-19 prior to entering the hospital, and Radisch’s husband, a lieutenant paramedic firefighter for Prince George’s County Fire Department, anticipates that the hospital will do something similar to what his firehouse has been doing. “Before he goes into the firehouse everyone has to get their temperature taken, their blood pressure taken, and they check some other vitals,” shared Radisch.
As a first-responder, Scott, 30, is highly aware of the measures he needs to take to keep his family healthy. Even though her husband wears protective gear and masks on the job, Radisch says it’s “still scary every time he comes home, because he’s in so many different hospitals and other people’s homes.”
Radisch’s next medical appointment will be in mid-April, where her doctor will notify her if the hospital’s policy has changed. She is “absolutely terrified that I might have to go through my first childbirth, this traumatic experience, alone… I feel like if they tell me that on April 15 when I go back in, I will actually have a panic attack.”
Pregnant women are making sacrifices for their communities in light of Covid-19
Radisch sees people in her community practicing social distancing, and she is not opposed to more drastic measures being taken. “I would say if they want to quarantine everyone, make us do shelter in place, yes it’s probably worth it to try and flatten the curve,” she said. “I’m biting my tongue as I say that because if I say that and it happens, I have a feeling they could probably change who could be in my hospital room with me.”
According to the CDC, children do not appear to be at higher risk of infection than adults, but because infants don’t have the same immunities that older children and adults have, doctors recommend that, once home, new parents take additional precautions when introducing their newborns to anyone outside of the immediate household.
If a person has self-quarantined for around 14 days prior to meeting the newborn and has not shown any symptoms of the coronavirus, doctors say that they probably wouldn’t pass anything to the baby but that frequent hand-washing and social distancing practices would still need to take place.
“It’s a scary time, and it’s crazy that I’m bringing a new life into the world at this time… It’s one thing when people are like ‘don’t kiss my baby, don’t touch my baby’ but now it’s like ‘don’t even come within six feet of my baby,’” said Radisch.