News that NewYork-Presbyterian hospitals won't allow birthing partners in delivery rooms during the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak has left expectant parents grappling with new concerns amid a global pandemic. It's also spurred moms and families to advocate for each other in what has quickly become a scary time to give birth. In a new video, for instance, model and new mom Ashley Graham stressed birthing partners' vital role in childbirth while breastfeeding her 2-month-old son.
"Due to COVID-19 there are some hospitals in New York City that are not allowing mothers to have their significant other in the room while they're delivering, which means mothers will not have a support system when they're actually delivering their child," Graham said in a video message shared on Instagram. "I understand that hospitals have to protect their staff, they have to protect the patient, the mothers, the children, and everybody else who's there. But I really believe that mothers need to have that support system, even if its just one face that they know and they trust."
Earlier this week, NewYork-Presbyterian hospitals barred birthing partners and support persons from delivery rooms as part of a new, restrictive visitors policy put in place due to the ongoing spread of coronavirus. Although meant to be a protective measure, the policy does not reflect recent coronavirus guidelines for childbirth issued by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommend laboring mothers be allowed one support person during the extent of their care.
Graham, who has previously called childbirth "the greatest pain I've ever known and the greatest accomplishment that I've ever achieved," said she believed her own experience would have been much different if she'd had to do it alone. "I know that if I wouldn't have had someone to look in my eyes and tell me I could do it, it would have been a much different laboring process for me," she said. Graham welcomed a son with her husband, Justin Ervin, in January after having a natural home birth.
"I do believe that we need to continue to stay home to really flatten the curve, but bringing life into the world is a whole other conversation," Graham said. "But another big problem is that there isn't enough protective gear, the PPE."
In an effort to help, the new mom said she was working with the midwives who'd helped her deliver her son to make sure they had the protective gear they need to continue doing home deliveries. "It's crucial we help this cause by having PPE available for healthcare workers and midwives so we can protect new mothers, infants, their families, and ALL patients," Graham wrote in the caption of her video. "I'm doing what I can to support my midwives, but every healthcare worker out there needs your help, for the good of all of us."
Graham also encouraged her followers to sign a Change.org petition urging NewYork-Presbyterian to reconsider its ban on birthing partners. "For all the mothers out there, I am thinking of you," Graham said when ending her video message. "I love you, and remember that you are not alone."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.