Labor & Delivery During the Coronavirus Pandemic: ​7 Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Deciding Where to Deliver Your Baby by Dr. Alan Lindemann

Labor & Delivery During the Coronavirus Pandemic: ​7 Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Deciding Where to Deliver Your Baby

New research shows that deaths from conditions unrelated to coronavirus (COVID-19) have increased during the pandemic. Experts suggest that this may be because people are avoiding hospitals and not seeking help  and this trend has extended beyond illness, injury, or disease to include pregnant women.

Should expecting mothers choose home birth or hospital birth during the pandemic? Here are some questions you should ask your OB-GYN before making this important decision:

1. Where will you feel more comfortable, at home or in the hospital? Did you know that anxiety can interfere with labor? Consider whether you would be more comfortable delivering at home or in a hospital. It is not uncommon for labor to stop for a while when women check into a hospital for a delivery. If labor stops for any length of time, your obstetrician may want to begin induction processes to speed things up.

2. Who do you want making the decisions about your delivery? The big problem with hospital births is loss of autonomy, which starts with your insurance company telling you which doctor you may see and which hospital you may go to. Many insurance companies do not cover the services of midwives.

3. Are you comfortable with medical interventions such as induction or an episiotomy? In a hospital, even with a “natural” delivery, you will probably have an IV, monitors (sometimes even internal monitors), a blood pressure machine and a Foley catheter because you are tied to the bed with monitoring equipment. Walking is good for a natural labor, but in a hospital hooked up to numerous pieces of electronic equipment, arranging to walk around to help your delivery is difficult. Pitocin induction creates a very painful labor which will require an epidural.

4. How comfortable are you with a C-section? If you opt for a hospital delivery, you want a hospital and an obstetrician with a low C-section rate. Consumer Reports collects information about the rate of C-sections at various hospitals.

5. Has your obstetrician had any infant or maternal deaths? Ask your doctor about his or her infant and maternal mortality rates. Also ask how many C-hysterectomies he or she has had to perform to stop postpartum hemorrhage. Ask your midwife about infant and maternal mortality rates as well. Just be aware that when midwives send patients to the hospital because of complications, whatever bad outcomes emerge will be assigned to either the doctor or the midwife, and there is no consistency in how this is done. You should still ask. If the numbers are higher than you’d like, you have cause for concern.

6. Is birthing generally safer at home or in a hospital? The issue between a hospital and home birth is really that the hospital is a safer place in case of an obstetrical emergency such as hemorrhage. Dr. Neda Ghaffari specializes in high-risk pregnancies. She recommends that if a woman with a low-risk pregnancy does choose a home birth that she live within 15 minutes of a hospital. If she has had a previous C-section, is carrying twins or has a breech baby, she should opt for a hospital birth. These are similar recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). 

Dr. Robyn Lamar, an obstetrician, told National Public Radio (NPR): “The underlying belief in midwifery is that birth is a physiological process … versus the more medical view … that birth is something that can be high-risk at any moment and it’s sort of a disaster waiting to happen.” The crux of the decision for any woman is whether they believe strongly that birth is a natural process and something they want to experience as such, or whether they feel safer in a hospital where emergency complications can be handled and there will be technological interventions they will have to learn to live with. One is not inherently better than the other. It’s a woman’s personal choice.

7. What is your blood type? Recent studies show that those with the O blood type may have some additional protection against COVID-19, so those with this blood type may be safer making the choice to deliver in a hospital during this pandemic if that is their preference.

The information on is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information provided through this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider.

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Elisa Schmitz
Wow, such important questions to be asking at this time. Many thanks for sharing your key insights, Dr. Alan Lindemann !
OMG, so much to think about during pregnancy and a pandemic, yikes.

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