As pregnant women prepare to give birth in the state of New York amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, they can take comfort in knowing they won't have to go through it alone. The state announced in new guidelines released Wednesday that birth partners can stay with new moms during and after delivery in New York hospitals.
The state of New York has been one of the hardest hit during the coronavirus pandemic with more than 300,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, and 17,000 deaths reported. As hospitals in New York have tried to deal with the overwhelming number of cases, two hospital systems had initially banned birth partners to accompany pregnant women into the delivery room.
In March, NewYork-Presbyterian announced it would not allow visitors or birth partners to visit or stay with obstetric patients in an effort to "promote the safety of our new mothers and children." Mount Sinai Health System released similar guidelines in an effort to "prevent avoidable exposure to mothers and babies."
The moves were swiftly met with backlash, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue an updated advisory deeming birth partners essential and both hospital systems then revised their initial statements. "In no hospital in New York will a woman be forced to be alone when she gives birth," Cuomo tweeted on March 28. "Not now, not ever." As long as the birth partner had not exhibited any COVID-19 symptoms, they could be in the room with the laboring mom.
While it was made clear that birth partners were allowed in the delivery room, new parents could potentially still face postpartum separation in hospitals. This week, Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order addressing the duration of time birth partners and support people can be with new moms, including labor, delivery, postpartum, and recovery in hospital.
On April 29, Cuomo said on Twitter that he took into account all of the recommendations of the COVID-19 Maternity Task Force led by Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, regarding clarification for support persons in the delivery room, in particular the duration of stay. That duration has been updated to include "labor, delivery, and the postpartum period, including recovery," according to the new guidelines. This will likely come as welcome news to expectant moms who might have been concerned about being left alone during their recovery, including those who might have C-sections, which tend to have longer and more complicated recovery times.
Former model Christy Turlington and founder of non-profit organization Every Mom Counts, applauded the updated guidelines on Twitter and thanked Cuomo and the Task Force. "Thank you once again for your leadership @NYGovCuomo," Turlington tweeted. "We applaud you & @melissadderosa for your attention to childbearing people at this time and always. Knowing NY’ers will have more safe birthing options gives me some peace of mind during these uncertain times."
As expectant moms in New York prepare to give birth, it will hopefully be comforting to know they won't be alone and can have their trusted birth partner with them every step of the way during this difficult time.
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.