Home births rise in Louisiana as mothers reevaluate labor plans during COVID-19 pandemic

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WEST MONROE, La. (5/7/20)– For Jennifer Riddle, an at home birth was part of the plan long before the pandemic. However, she says her plans would have switched from a hospital birth to an at home birth due to COVID-19.

“I’m very thankful that we were initially planning a home birth. I think if we had not been, it would have been a little bit stressful to have to make that call to make that change,” said Jennifer Riddle, having an at home birth in June.

A local ArkLaMiss Doula says she’s seen an increase in mothers wanting to change their labor plans as COVID-19 has brought some worries and fear.

“The interest in home births have gone up right now with the pandemic. Everyone is afraid, no one wants to go to the hospitals. So when the pandemic hit, I know midwives were hit and contacted and interest went up about 1,000 percent,” said Jessie Trichell, Doula/ Moments Bayou

Riddle, who is due in June, says she knows there is a much lesser chance of being exposed to COVID-19 in her house rather a hospital. In addition, home births allow the mother to be in control of their labor…something many mothers want during a time of uncertainty.

“I think right now there is a lot of hospital staff that is overworked and overwhelmed. There is just a lot going on in the hospital that maybe doesn’t allow as much freedom to labor on their own like they may want,” said Riddle.

Jessie says hospitals have to follow many new policies, including only one support person can be with the mother during labor. The mother would have to choose between a Doula, her partner, or someone else.

“Because the support persons are only allowed one now and people were afraid their babies would be taken away, if they have the virus, or they wouldn’t be able to breast feed. All those things wouldn’t happen at a home birth,” said Jessie.

At the end of the day, Jessie says it’s up to the mother to make her decision on where and what conditions would make her feel safer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for planned home births.
Those guidelines say pregnant women should not have any pre-existing disease, that includes diabetes or high blood pressure, they should be a low pregnancy. In addition, if a mother would like to switch to a home birth, they just need to contact a midwife.

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