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CLEVELAND – As coronavirus cases continue to soar there’s looming worry among some expecting mothers now considering changing their birth plan to avoid hospitals.

“I’m Sydney and I’m 39 weeks pregnant.”  In a FaceTime interview Sydney Shank, of Sandusky glowed rubbing her belly. The first time biological mother is only days away from her due date. She’s planning a home birth and part of growing trend according to Julia Meyer, a direct entry midwife, and owner of Cleveland Home Birth.

“I’m receiving an average of three to five inquiries a day from women who are wanting to switch from their original plan of birthing in a hospital to birthing at home,” said Meyer. “To put that in perspective I usually receive about five inquiries a month.” 

Many hospitals across Northeast Ohio have tightened visitation policies because of COVID-19 to include how many people can be inside a delivery room. 

Meyer had this story to share about another midwife’s client who developed a fever during delivery and had to be isolated.

“The test was negative however she birthed before the test results were back. She had to birth with a mask on alone.”

Cleveland Clinic Dr. Edward Chien says patients have expressed concerns about being in the hospital where there could be an increased risk of exposure. He says they have planned for potential patients infected with the virus or have concerns for infections to be placed in low traffic areas.

“I think they should really consider rethinking their plan and still consider coming into the hospital,” said Dr. Chien.

He stressed expectant parents should research outcomes of babies born inside versus outside a hospital.

“When you look at outcomes compared for the baby for outborn vs inborn it tends to be worse there are higher incidents of poor neurologic outcomes and other complications,” said Dr. Chien.

The doctor says so far he has not had a COVID-19 positive patient come in for delivery but has had pregnant patients diagnosed with the virus. He says the biggest risk for infection in babies is after delivery.

Meyer says doctors are doing the best they can to decrease the spread of the virus and she encourages expecting parents to research what’s best for the health and safety of the baby and mother. 

She is also working with legislators to get licensure for home birth and encourages prospective clients to research the education and experience level of midwives they plan to add to their birth plan.

“Home birth is not regulated in the state of Ohio. We are not licensed, there is not a license available for us,” explained Meyer who worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital as well as The Ohio State University Medial Center.

As for Shank, she’s counting down the days until she meets her baby during this

“One thing I’ve kind of been processing through and mourning in this season, this stage, is what my postpartum period is going to look like with just like the changes with social distancing.”

University Hospitals released the following statement:

“Our goal is always healthy mom, healthy baby, and we believe the safest environment for delivery is the hospital setting. University Hospitals has special procedures in place to care for pregnant women and their newborns during and after childbirth at all of our hospital birthing locations, and will continue to support our patient’s hospital birth plan. We encourage expectant families to talk with their obstetrician or midwife about any concerns. Our labor and delivery physicians, midwives and staff are doing everything possible to keep mom and baby safe during delivery and throughout their hospital stay.”

For more on Cleveland  Home Birth, click here.