COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Maternity wards remain safe for childbirth, say health professionals overseeing maternity care at a Vancouver Island hospital.

They were responding to a recent Comox Valley Record article suggesting a growing interest among expecting couples in having home births due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the article led to a chance for a conversation among perinatal care providers working with families to talk about plans – as a way to turn fear into action and look for ways to take control.

“We’ve been talking a lot about pregnancy, birth, COVID,” said Dr. Sarah Sandwith. “There’s actually been some very important relationship-building and dialogue…. We’re all on the same team working for the same goals and values.”

RELATED STORY: Virus affects demand for doulas, midwives in Comox Valley

Sandwith and Beth Ebers, a registered midwife, serve as medical co-leads for maternity care at the North Island Hospital’s Comox Valley campus. They want to stress that hospitals are still safe for deliveries, adding that all care providers are working to protect healthy patients from exposure to the virus and exceptional care for those who may have COVID-19, all while keeping providers safe.

“This has been a great opportunity for us to come together as care providers in the community,” Ebers said.

The hospital labour and delivery unit, Sandwith added, has been the first on Vancouver Island to develop a response strategy for perinatal care in light of the COVID-19 situation, especially in a case where someone who is pregnant may already be infected with COVID-19. The hospital has been asked to share what it had devised.

Another point Ebers and Sandwith make is that no one should be changing birth plans out of fear. With women spending months on building relationships with care providers to prepare to give birth, they say making last-minute changes based on fear of COVID can potentially be dangerous to mother, baby and family.

Finally, the two point out everyone who is pregnant needs support. The local hospital and its partners in perinatal health, including doulas, public health nursing, specialists and primary care providers, are looking for ways to be creative in providing this support while maintaining social distancing practices. On Friday, they talked with five doulas to discuss the logistics of providing this support.

“We know exactly what everybody’s doing,” Sandwith said.

Most care providers have taken steps such as decreasing the number of in-office visit contacts and using telehealth or videoconferencing, or if someone does have to come in to a clinic, this happens when they are the only one visiting.

“We’re undertaking rigorous measures to protect ourselves and them with personal protective equipment, and to clean the spaces between each visit, so that when people do need to come for care, it’s as safe as it can be,” Sandwith added. “We’ve also segregated our care providers.”

An important strategy is to use technology and draw on resources available at clinics or hospitals to provide virtual support and connection as much as possible, even while physical proximity is restricted.

“We do have the opportunity to think outside the box a little bit,” Ebers said.

Ebers said she has already worked through a birth in a virtual setting. In this case, the husband was in the military and was away when his wife went into labour.

“I actually have had the experience of someone providing virtual support to their partner during the process of labour…. He was on Skype for hours with her,” she said.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BirthsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Young Abbotsford cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

VIDEO: Shots fired outside Langley gas station that was scene of 2018 homicide

No reports of injuries in Saturday evening incident

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Most Read