Cayuga Birthplace COVID precautions keep newborns and parents safe

Danielle Prince and Allan Banfield’s daughter, Mariella, arrived last April 7 at Cayuga Medical Center’s Cayuga Birthplace when Tompkins County had recorded just 100 COVID-19 infections. By the time Bill and Bri Bustin’s son, Lewis, was born January 27, infections had soared to 2,877 cases. During a time of rising COVID illness, both families benefitted from Cayuga Birthplace’s infection precautions.

Among the first precautions were cancelled maternity room visits for siblings, relatives, and friends during or after a birth. That was disappointing for Danielle, whose three sons were born while joyful family and friends gathered in her room.

“Typically, I had a big support group in my room – my mom, sister, best friends, and the happy father. It was pretty much a party,” Danielle says.

The arrivals of both Mariella and Lewis were quieter events, with the parents focusing on each other and their newborn. In the new normal of COVID precautions, expectant mothers may have a single support person. That’s one of many policies Cayuga Health and New York’s health department set to prevent COVID transmission during childbirth.

“The support person for an expectant mother must be screened for COVID-19, have a temperature check, and be symptom free prior to entering a clinical area,” says Elaine Noe, RN, and Labor and Delivery Team Leader.

The hospital requires symptom and temperature checks for the person providing in-room maternal support. Those reporting significant COVID-19 exposure during the prior 14 days, symptoms in the past 48 hours, or have a temperature over 100° F. may not enter Cayuga Birthplace and cannot provide maternal support, Elaine says.

Expectant mothers and their support person stay in the birth rooms from arrival to discharge. That eliminates hallway walks around the maternity unit for women in early stages of labor. A support person leaving the birth room may not return.

If snacks or drinks are needed, they are delivered to the room. Couples pack cell phones and tablets to send news and photos of their newborns to family and friends. COVID prevention policies include scrupulous hand hygiene, strict disinfection for the birth room and its equipment, glove and mask requirements, and personal protective equipment.

Shifting the birth plans from a party to a placid event was initially disappointing for Danielle, but she found she preferred the quiet serenity for her and Allan to welcome their daughter.

“There are upsides to how my daughter was born. It was a quiet time for me and Allan to focus on each other and bond with our baby,” Danielle says. “If I have another baby, I’ll do it this way again.”

Bill and Bri Bustin wanted a quiet birth for their first child so they could share the experience with each other, while their midwife, OB-GYN and a nurse assisted with Lewis’s birth.

“Our midwife said she noticed that parents choosing this kind of birth had more time to focus on their babies, and everyone was better rested when they left the hospital,” Bri says.

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