Birth restrictions in place; more considering home births
On a super pink moon, in the middle of a thunderstorm, one spring baby couldn’t wait until Easter to join the world.
“This kid will be able to survive pretty much anything, I think,” said Washington County Health Department Director of Nursing Val Betkoski, as she sat quarantined with her newest grandchild and daughter in Marietta Memorial Hospital Wednesday.
Rozalyn Betkoski joined the world Monday evening via cesarean section, weighing in at 6 pounds, 8 ounces and measuring 18.5 inches long.
“She was being a little stubborn,” laughed new mom Ellen Betkoski, 23. “She was originally due on Easter.”
But as fears and precautionary measures increased surrounding COVID-19, the Betkoski family looked to consider their options.
“Do I want to have her at the hospital or do I want to have her in the tub in my basement,” joked Val late last week.
“I was very worried,” added Ellen. “Just about her safety, and my safety and the sanity of everyone around us.”
At Marietta Memorial Hospital, limitations are in place to support birth while maintaining lower exposure in the health system, according to Memorial Health System Vice President Jennifer Offenberger.
“We’re still open and still here for your care but we are limiting visitors and family, those people that aren’t necessary at the time of delivery,” Offenberger explained. “It’s sad and we hate that for our community. We know that this is such an important time in their life and we know it’s such a celebratory time. But we’ve got to protect the health of our patients and so obviously we want that support person there during active labor but won’t be offering the opportunity for any visitors or photographers or anything at this time.”
One support person, no exchanges, no photographers and no visitors are the current rules.
Val Betkoski said she hasn’t left the unit floor since admittance Monday.
“With the COVID-19 issues, the OB department is on lockdown so to speak, they’re even sending meals up for me, I’m not allowed to leave the unit either,” she explained. “If I leave the unit I can’t come back in, so they’re protecting these moms and babies pretty well.”
Offenberger emphasized that the protocols are in place to protect not only patients but also to limit potential exposure.
“We do screen appropriately at the first point of contact when they’re coming into the health system,” said Offenberger. “Again, we’re following those protocols. We want people to stay at home when they can, we don’t want unnecessary visitors within the health system.”
Certified professional midwife Joanna Davis, of Marietta, said the virus has also increased interest in home birth options and delaying admittance to the hospital throughout active labor.
“We only work with low-risk pregnancies,” explained Davis. “In my practice, we’re all neonatal resuscitation certified and are constantly assessing the health of mom and baby.”
Home birth, Davis said, allows moms to be surrounded with the support they choose to have during delivery while still having certified care.
“In the last two and a half weeks I’ve taken on four new, late-term clients (due) in April, and two in May, then just added one for June yesterday,” said Davis. “Some are upset over the visitation policies at hospitals, some hospitals are requiring that both the spouse and the person delivering wear a mask, others are worried about their risk of infection.”
To meet the added demand for care, Davis said she’s added telehealth visits to her practice, morphing approximately 15 years of face-to-face care into prenatal visits over HIPAA-compliant software similar to other health care providers.
“I’m not home birth or bust, I’m here and my staff are here to support through the safe and natural process,” she said. “We’re ordering the supplies, and I’m working on how to do the home birth class online for our clients to log in, so we can still offer what we do to get prepared for birth.”
Confluence Midwifery, Davis’s Parkersburg-based practice, is also offering at-home doula support prior to couples delivering in a hospital.
The practice serves Ohio, West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, clients.
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Janelle Patterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance:
• Births are still being performed in local hospitals.
• The Memorial Health System is limiting birth support to one person, no photographers or additional visitors.
• Local certified professional midwives are also seeing an uptick in interest for home births.
Source: Times research.