Having a baby during a global pandemic

MEDFORD, Ore. — For expecting parents everywhere, having a baby is a life-changing event. But during a global pandemic, there is added anxiety and uncertainty.

“The possibility of the experience being kind of robbed from you is the scariest thing,” said Alex Ooley, an Ashland resident.

Ooley is 38 weeks pregnant, her baby boy due on April 19th.

It’s a moment Ooley says she’s waited her entire life for, but she never imagined the possibility she could go through it alone.

“Being in a room full of strangers and having to go through that without having that familiar face and the person that you love and that support,” she said.

Ooley is one of thousands of women across the country faced with a new reality of what giving birth might look like amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“I think women want to know, how will my birth plan change and how will things be different in the hospital than what I was expecting and anticipating,” said Perinatal Clinical Practice Advisor for Asante, Hillary Handelsman.

Handelsman says Asante wants to preserve the experience of giving birth and make it as positive as possible. But for everyone’s safety they had to make some changes, especially if an expecting mother is symptomatic.

“[They would be] delivering in a special space, in a room set up for a positive or symptomatic patient that has the appropriate airflow in that room to keep everyone safer.”

At this time, Handelsman says women are still allowed to bring one support person for labor, however, the person can’t show any symptoms of coronavirus.

If the mother tests positive for the virus, she must decide if her baby will stay in the same room with her or be given to someone else temporarily for care.

“Separating a mother and baby is a really difficult and painful decision to make, but the goal in that separation would be to protect the health of that newborn and that’s what the Center for Disease Control recommends,” said Handelsman.

It’s those kinds of decisions that Ooley says she’s still trying to wrap her head around, but she wants to stay strong for all the expecting mothers out there.

“As a first time mom, you know, you really don’t want to go through all this alone and I’ve been so lucky to have a partner through all of this,” said Ooley.

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