Hospitals are a safe place to deliver during the COVID-19 pandemic

hospitals are a safe place to deliver during the covid 19 pandemic
Jack Brockman with his three older siblings

Some expectant mothers may be feeling apprehensive about giving birth at a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Intermountain Healthcare is committed to providing the safest birthing experience possible, including every necessary precaution against exposure to COVID-19. With all of the extra precautions in place, experts agree that hospitals are a safe place to deliver your baby during the pandemic.

Beyond deciding the location of your delivery experience, when you find out you’re pregnant you are faced with many other choices. One of those choices is whether to have a physician or midwife care for you during your pregnancy and birth. Depending on where you live, you might think that only physicians care for women in pregnancy. But midwives are a safe choice for most women. Having more options for your childbirth experience is a great benefit to have — especially during these uncertain times.

Partnering with a midwife during COVID-19

Darcey Brockman, a 44-year old mom from Utah, was grateful she had a midwife by her side when she delivered her fourth baby earlier this year. Brockman didn’t find out she was pregnant until she was 24 weeks along and was shocked and surprised when she found out she was expecting.

"Pregnancy did not even enter my brain because I was told I was done," said Brockman, whose doctors had told her that having another baby would be medically impossible.

Her miracle baby, Jack Brockman, was born on Aug. 12 and has already brought immense joy to Brockman, her husband, and her three older children — ages 20, 18, and 16.

Brockman saw an obstetrician for her three previous pregnancies, but for her fourth pregnancy, she saw Intermountain Healthcare's Celeste Thomas, a certified nurse midwife who delivers babies at Layton Hospital.

Because of Brockman’s advanced age and high blood pressure, she was considered high-risk. Her midwife partnered with physicians in the Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic to ensure the safety of both mom and baby. She saw both her nurse midwife and her high-risk doctor once a week.

"There was preeclampsia we were worried about. We were worried about gestational diabetes … all kinds of things, and I felt like all of it was taken care of," Brockman said. "All my needs were met; all of his needs were met."

Unlike her previous pregnancies, in which the doctor was only by her side at the delivery, Thomas was there the whole time she labored.

"This time, Celeste was with me pretty much the entire time," Brockman said. "It felt very warm and welcoming."

Although she gave birth during a pandemic, Brockman said she "felt completely safe and secure."

"It actually is a really safe time for delivering your baby on the labor and delivery unit," Thomas said.

All members of staff at every Intermountain hospital are ready and prepared to care for all expectant mothers and their babies during the COVID-19 pandemic — no matter which childbirth option has been chosen. There are strict care protocols and personal protective equipment to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Midwifery explained

The word midwife means “with woman.” The midwifery model of care focuses on individualized care that is a partnership between the pregnant woman and the provider.

Midwives focus on health, wellness, and prevention, and use interventions at lower rates when complications arise. Midwives approach pregnancy as a normal physiologic event in a woman’s life. While complications are possible in any pregnancy, midwives are trained to not only identify and manage those complications but to also refer or consult with physicians when needed. Typically, midwives allow more time during prenatal visits and can also provide additional support during labor and birth.

Midwives offer continuous labor support, which has been shown to decrease the chance of Caesarean section. They can prescribe medications and use them to induce labor. They care for women who are laboring with or without epidural anesthesia for pain relief, and they may recommend a C-section, if necessary.

Many studies show that midwifery care for healthy pregnant women is just as safe or safer than physician-led care. Midwifery care is cost-effective because it can result in fewer unnecessary interventions such as C-sections. Preterm birth rates are also lower in women who receive their prenatal care from a midwife.

In Utah, only Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) have privileges at hospitals. If you prefer to deliver in a hospital, find out if your midwife is licensed to do so. Ask questions, share your birth goals and health history to find a provider who can attend to your specific needs.

Midwives aren’t just for pregnancy and birth. You can also see a midwife for general women’s primary care and gynecological issues such as pap smears, annual exams, birth control and family planning, immunizations, and breast exams. Midwives care for women of all ages — from puberty to menopause and beyond.

Intermountain Healthcare has midwives at locations near Intermountain Medical Center, at Alta View, Riverton, and Layton Hospitals. For more information, visit intermountainhealthcare.org.