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COVID 19: Hospitals restrict visitors during baby deliveries, pregnant women seek alternatives

“They came in and dropped a little bombshell on us. Because of this COVID-19 stuff they are not allowing any visitors.”

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Danny and Natasha Givens have learned that plans shift. 

The couple chose Friday, March 13 to bring their baby boy into the world. But things didn’t go as planned because of restrictions hospitals now have in place due to COVID-19. 

Soon after Givens was prepped for her cesarean section, she and her husband, Danny, were hit with a surprise.  

“They came in and dropped a little bombshell on us. Because of this COVID-19 stuff they are not allowing any visitors,” Givens told his Facebook followers during a live update before delivery.

Natasha Givens said her parents flew in from San Antonio, Texas to witness the birth of their first grandson. The couple hired a photographer to capture the moment their son, Icon Givens, entered the world. None of that happened. And then, when they were released from the hospital, Natasha Givens’ postpartum period kicked in.

“Those baby blues days are so difficult. Being isolated to the house. It is so scary and frightening,” she said, "It throws your emotions into chaos. I was a crying mess.” 

But she isn't alone.

Tina Welke is a Perinatal Psychotherapist at Allina’s Abbot Northwestern Mental Health Clinic. She works in the Mother Baby Mental Health program. Welke said her patients are experiencing higher levels of anxiety due to the coronavirus, but she encourages them to do the best they can with what they have. 

"A lot of the women I am working with are pregnant or postpartum right now. They are very very worried. Not only about being isolated at home with their babies but getting through their pregnancy with a healthy developed fetus,” she said. “It is scary and unknown. Women need breaks from their babies when they're as scared as they are."

Welke also says new and expecting moms should get seven hours of sleep. She said there are groups online through Postpartum Support International if you need help or someone to talk to.

Meanwhile, at Roots Community Birth Center the midwives are busy. Rachel Voigt says in the last week they have averaged about 25 calls per day from people inquiring about alternative delivery options.  

“People who were planning hospital based births are definitely curious about birthing in an out-of-hospital location now,” she said. “We’ve seen like a 75% increase in third-trimester transfer interests."

Rachel Voigt is a certified and licensed midwife. She says mothers have expressed concern about entering hospitals because of the virus. Because of social distancing, they are now seeing 50% of their patients online via Zoom calls. But Voigt says mothers should still find joy during their pregnancy. 

She said this can still be an exciting time. Roots is allowing partners at birth. Right now, mothers can have a total of two people supporting them during delivery. 

Danny and Natasha Givens said now that they are home with family, the support has helped.

"When you look at your child, especially a newborn, you are not reminded of all that is happening in the world. You are like, 'This is my world',” Danny Givens said.

His wife, Natasha Givens, said she found comfort in their little blessing.

"So many people say, 'What a blessing to have a child during this time.’ They see the opposite,” she said. “It is a renewal. Life continues to go on and flourish. Thank God we have a healthy child."

Here's a list of perinatal resources.

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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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