governor andrew cuomo
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Gov. Cuomo Has An Executive Order Saying Women Don't Have To Birth Alone

Following the announcement by the administration of New York-Presbyterian hospital, as well as Mt. Sinai, that birthing partners would be banned during the coronavirus surge, the state has reissued guidelines affirming a support person as "essential" to patient care during labor and delivery. On Friday, March 27, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an updated advisory in concert with the state Department of Health requiring hospitals to allow one support person for those delivering babies through the immediate postpartum period, and two for pediatric patients.

"We updated that guidance to make that a directive," said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, in an emailed statement to Romper. "Women do not have to be alone while they are giving birth and we’re going to reinforce that in an executive order."

"In no hospital in New York will a woman be forced to be alone when she gives birth," tweeted the governor on March 28. "Not now, not ever."

The support person can be the patient’s spouse, partner, sibling, doula, or another person, and is required to remain in the room for the duration of the patient's stay, per the guidelines. They must not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, and will be screened upon entry to the hospital, as well as every 12 hours, possibly.

The hospital policy announced last week came under fire from birth advocacy groups, who raised concerns it would lead to an increase in birth interventions and decrease in birth satisfaction.

As of March 28, the New York-Presbyterian hospital guidelines marked to take effect on March 30 remained on the hospital's website: "At this time, no visitors including birthing partners and support persons are permitted for obstetric patients. We understand that this will be difficult for our patients and their loved ones, but we believe that this is a necessary step to promote the safety of our new mothers and children."

The same day, spokesmen for both hospitals told Gothamist they would comply with the executive order.

This article has been updated.

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