Being pregnant and giving birth can be scary and raise lots of questions even in the best of times. At MomsRising, we’ve heard your concerns as you navigate this uncertain moment and your desire to make sure expecting families and providers are on the same page when it comes to ensuring positive and successful birth experiences and outcomes.
Everyone who becomes pregnant, gives birth, and/or is breastfeeding/chestfeeding should have access to a safe, healthy, and respectful experience, even (and especially!) during the coronavirus pandemic. This is why MomsRising joined together with stakeholders across the state on the North Carolina Pregnancy Continuity of Care During COVID-19 Task Force to advocate for a set of Family Centered Care principles. The Task Force Recommendations we developed together are primarily guidance for healthcare providers based on current evidence and best practices, but they can also help shape your birth experience.
Read below to find out what you can expect when giving birth in North Carolina, the principles behind our recommendations, and what you can do to advocate for yourself or other expecting families.
Know What to Expect When You Are Pregnant During COVID-19
- You have the right to clear communications with your health care team and shared decision making whether or not you have a confirmed case of coronavirus. A birth plan from our friends at the March of Dimes is a great way to start the conversation.
- You may be tested for COVID-19.
- Your doula and/or support person may be screened and/or tested.
- You can have access to FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype while in labor
- Based on the number of cases in your community, the number of support persons may be limited.
- You and your support team should be prepared to wear a mask.
- You can have access to pain relief strategies including mobility throughout labor.
Know What to Expect When You Are Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding During COVID-19
Whether or not you have a confirmed case of coronavirus, human milk provides protection against many illnesses and is the best source of nutrition for most infants. Follow these simple guidelines:
- Wash your hands.
- If you are sick, wear a mask when nursing.
- Clean & disinfect all parts of your breast pump after each use.
Know What to Expect When You and Your Infant are Home
- Telehealth services may be available from your healthcare providers, including but not limited to lactation consultants and mental health providers. If data usage or phone access is limited, please let your provider know.
- You can request services to be provided in your native language.
- You can receive the birth control that best suits your family’s needs.
North Carolina Pregnancy & Continuity of Care During COVID-19 Task Force Family Centered Principles
The recommendations of the Task Force are rooted in these essential principles that we encourage providers to keep in mind as they provide care.
- Health Equity: Health equity means everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health and well-being. Factors that influence health, such as racial discrimination, employment, housing, education, native language, health care, public safety and food access must be acknowledged and addressed to help pregnant individuals during COVID-19 and beyond.
- Equitable Access to Quality Care and Protection of Human Rights in Childbirth: Support current models of care that allow patients to access their healthcare needs simply and without barriers. Safe and Patient-Centered Birthing Options Increase individuals' understanding of different levels of maternity care and types of birthing facilities as well as how to work with providers to select the appropriate patient-centered birthing environment.
- Support Persons: Birthing individuals should have access to at least one support person for the duration of their stay in the birthing facility and postpartum unit and a trained doula to support them during labor, delivery, and after birth. Trained doulas are considered an essential part of the maternity care team and should be allowed to accompany a pregnant person during labor and birth as an additional support person, as long as the pregnant person’s medical condition allows. Their inclusion should be supported and not limited.
- Fourth Trimester and Newborn Care: The care of pregnant individuals and families does not end with the birth of their child. Access to healthcare and related services, equity in attaining care, and wellness of the family must be supported.
- Education Through Partnerships: Given the nature of this novel virus, there is emerging information about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy and the newborn. In order for patients, families, providers and the community to make informed decisions based on the best available science, it is crucial that there are resources to share the best knowledge we have on the topics of need and that these resources are culturally and linguistically appropriate and accessible.
How can you help advocate for expecting families?
MomsRising is working to shape policies that affect pregnant and breastfeeding expectant parents in North Carolina and across the country – but we need your help! This situation is constantly evolving, and your personal experiences can make a HUGE difference in helping decision makers and elected leaders understand how to best meet the needs of new parents and babies, and ensure healthy outcomes for all. We need to hear from you! Please share your story now!
AND don’t forget to please SHARE this page with your friends, your family, and your colleagues. We need your help to ensure that every pregnant person knows what to expect if they are pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4th Trimester Project
ACOG Guidance for COVID-19
CDC Guidance for COVID-19 for pregnancy, breastfeeding and newborn care
Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, Lactation and Infant Feeding in Emergencies (L.I.F.E.™) Initiative
Children's Mental Health Initiative
MAHEC COVID Resources
WHO Maternal-Child Health Guidance for COVID-19