Pandemic forces major changes for expectant parents at hospitals

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Having a baby is a lot different these days. There are now strict limits on how many people can be in a delivery room.

Hospital settings have changed and now new parents-to-be are adjusting. A first-time mom who’s expecting twins and a mom who recently gave birth both agree, the experience is nothing like they’d imagined.

“It’ll be hard knowing people might not be able to see them afterward you know that’s stressing me out a lot,” explained Amanda Grundler, a Santa Fe first-time mom who’s expecting twins in July. “Not having the friends who can come and visit and the family and that’s that.”

Grundler is pregnant with identical twin girls. She got emotional when explaining one of the hardest things she’s experienced so far is not having her husband allowed in ultrasound appointments. Since she’s having twins, she has frequent check-ups.

While he can’t attend her appointments, Grundler shares photos from the ultrasound with her husband. “It’s definitely a time when it’s very sad, they don’t allow you to videotape because of HIPPA regulations, so that sucks too,” Grundler added.

For pregnant women everywhere, doctors’ offices are taking more precautions.

Grundler said she has to check-in to appointments from her car, always wear a mask, go through a questionnaire and even take a smell test as part of her COVID-19 screening process. Overall she said her anxiety is heightened.

Right now local hospitals are only allowing one support person in labor and delivery rooms, forcing parents to choose between a spouse and parent or a support person like a Doula.

“I was really upset and you know definitely more nervous and a little more scared, because I’m like, ‘No we had a plan!’ And then nothing was going according to plan,” said Laramie Cooley.

Cooley recently gave birth to a baby girl and says not having her family visit when they came home from the hospital was tough.

“That was hard because I wanted them to be able to come over immediately,” said Cooley.

When her parents did eventually visit the baby, her doctor advised any visitors to check themselves for fever, not to come with any symptoms of sickness, wash their hands and even put a blanket between themselves and the baby.

“My dad actually for the first time got to hold her yesterday,” recalled Cooley. “He was pretty emotional about it. It’s their first grand-baby.”

A local Doula said she stayed on the phone via FaceTime with one of her clients for the first time during a childbirth on Sunday.

“It was slightly frustrating yesterday to be like ‘I just, I wanna hand her water, I wanna do something,’ but I couldn’t reach through the phone,” said Megan Othling, a local Doula and member of the group Doulas of the Southwest.

Othling said Doulas not only offer emotional, informational and physical support but they are often the only ones who can devote their full attention and time to mothers during childbirth.

“Nurses and midwives and obstetricians aren’t able to be with you the whole time because they have other patients, and they have charting to do and they have all the clinical work to do,” explained Othling.

“Of course the nurses and the care staff, I think they’re aware of the less support that their patients are getting and they’re trying their hardest to give that, but again it’s just not possible all the time,” she added.

A few new moms said their doctors are advising them against visitors at home for a while because both mom and baby have lowered immune systems, particularly after a C-section.

Othling said her advice to new moms would be to ask for help and remember there are still ways to get the support they need.

“You’re adding to your family and that still can be a joyful thing, even though it might be just a little bit more scary than usual,” she said.

Virtual support systems, including post-partum Doulas and Lactation Consultants for new parents, are also gaining in popularity. Women’s Specialists of New Mexico is providing childbirth classes, prenatal yoga and breastfeeding support groups via Zoom.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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