It’s natural to feel anxious when it’s time to have your baby, but you don’t need added stress about coming to a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Duke doctors want to reassure you that a hospital is still the safest place for you to give birth.
Your Safety Is Our Priority
Daily measures to protect you and your baby before, during, and after delivery, along with immediate access to emergency obstetrical care, make the hospital an ideal space for you to have your baby, said Eve Hammett, MSN, a certified nurse-midwife at the Duke Birthing Center at Duke University Hospital.
“We’ve always prioritized the safety of moms, and that effort doesn’t change,” she said. “COVID-19 or not, we work to make delivery a special time for moms, and one they’ll remember.”
We understand you may have questions and concerns about your upcoming delivery. We hope we’ve answered them below.
What Is Duke Doing to Keep Me Safe?
Duke created extra safety precautions throughout its hospitals and birthing centers to minimize the spread of the virus and to ensure your safety while you are in the hospital. These measures include:
- Enhanced cleaning of spaces and surfaces.
- Health screenings of all patients, visitors, and employees.
- Required masks for all in hallways and other shared spaces. You’ll need to be masked for a short period after admission while we test you for COVID-19, but you won’t have to wear a mask in your own room if your test is negative.
- Physical distancing to minimize the number of people in one location, including your private room.
Can My Partner or Support Person Be with Me?
Laboring mothers may designate two support people, which could include a doula. After birth, you may designate one support person for the entire length of your stay in the hospital, whether or not you're COVID-positive.
Every person is screened before they enter the hospital. If they have symptoms -- fever, cough, or shortness of breath -- or test positive without symptoms, they will not be allowed to enter the facility.
“It may be a good idea to have a backup person just in case,” Hammett said. "We strongly believe that a support person improves outcomes, and we encourage all our moms to have someone with them at their bedside.”
Will I Be Able to Connect with Family Outside the Hospital?
You can use our free Wi-Fi connection to introduce your baby to your family using your mobile device and a video messaging platform like FaceTime or Zoom.
What Happens If I Have COVID-19?
If you’re COVID-positive, you can still give birth safely in a private room and keep your newborn in your room with you. You can also allow your baby to stay in a newborn nursery and be cared for by doctors and nurses. Your healthy support person can visit with your baby. If you have COVID-19, you’ll have to stay in your room. Your doctors, nurses, and other attendants will wear masks and other protective clothing as they care for you.
What Happens to My Baby If I Have COVID-19?
To date, there’s no evidence that babies can contract COVID-19 from their mothers during birth. Dr. Elizabeth Livingston, MD, a perinatologist at Duke, said that if you choose to keep your baby in your room, your care team will guide you on best practices including:
- Keeping your sleeping baby in a bassinet six feet from your bed
- Practicing good hand hygiene by washing your hands and using hand sanitizer
- Wearing a mask and cleaning your hands and when holding or breastfeeding your baby
"Our hospitals remain safe, and our delivery teams are committed to making moms feel important at every step," Livingston said. "Whether it's our obstetrics-dedicated anesthesia team, on-call specialists, or an amazing group of nurses, we are prepared to keep moms and babies safe and healthy."
Can My Baby Get COVID-19 from Breastfeeding?
The COVID-19 virus has not been found in breast milk. If you choose to breastfeed, our lactation consultants will help you safely breastfeed or pump milk for your baby even if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19.