CHICAGO (CBS) — Expectant moms are facing a new fear as COVID-19 cases surge – delivering their baby at a hospital inundated with sick patients.

As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported Thursday night, the phones are ringing off the hook for midwives and doulas.

Courtney Boyd is a first-time mom-to be.

“The stress and the anxiety you already feel, on top of the rest of the world panicking,” she said.

Boyd is 35 weeks into her pregnancy, looking forward delivering at home with her husband Dean and her midwife.

“A lot people were wondering: ‘Why you would have a home birth? Hospitals are safer,’ stuff like that,” she said, “and a lot of those same people are like, ‘Wow I’m so thankful you’re having a home birth.’”

Out-of-hospital births make up a small percentage of deliveries in the United States. But it’s a plan, we’re told, many want to make right now to avoid going into hospitals – with the coronavirus weighing on their minds.

Boyd belongs to an online group of people who have decided just that.

“There’s been 20 or 30 people a day saying: Who goes to this person? Are there any openings with your midwife? Can I get seen by someone?’”

At Gentle Birth Care, Boyd’s home birth service, certified nurse midwife Corrine Westing said, “We’ve just been inundated with requests.”

Westing told us they’re creating a waitlist and working on increasing staffing just to keep up.

“I’m happy that folks are considering that now in ways that they wouldn’t in normal circumstances, but of course, this is a terrible reason,” Westing said.

The midwives are changing how they operate too, with more virtual visits and check-ups, for everyone’s sake.
Her advice…To moms-to-be considering home birth?

“Reach out to a licensed provider in your area who is offering those services and see if they can take care of you,” Westing said.

We reached out to local hospitals to see what changes their OB’s are making.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital had this advice:

·       Providers delivering at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital remain open for routine obstetrical appointments, assuming you have no signs of infection nor exposure concern.

·       Call your individual provider to find out what their policy is on bringing guests (spouse, partner, children, etc.) to appointments – individual practices have new restrictions.

·        All patients with potential exposure to or symptoms of the COVID-19 virus (fever and respiratory symptoms) should refrain from coming to the office to avoid spread to our staff and other patients. If you have mild respiratory symptoms and a fever, STAY HOME and call us. In most cases, you do not need to come into the office or hospital, and we will guide you through what to look out for and how to take care of yourself.

·       If you need to go to the hospital, we are taking steps at Prentice to protect you and to continue to provide you with the care you need – please do not present to OB triage without calling your obstetrical provider first. 

Tara Molina