Coronavirus fears prompt concerned mothers-to-be to seek other birth options: ‘It was definitely fear-based research’

Expectant mothers say preparing their birth plans amid the ongoing the coronavirus pandemic has them looking at various options as to how and where they will welcome their new bundle of joy.

Cristina Mares is about 35 weeks into her pregnancy and has been planning a hospital birth for her new son. However, fears looming over the COVID-19 virus have prompted her to consider options--particularly to make sure a doula and her mother are with her.

“I actually was not expecting this at all, I found out in the fall and life just kind of happened,” Mares said. “There was kind of that stress of not knowing who could be contaminated or what could be contaminated so it was kind of fear-based research.”

Cristina Mares prepares to give birth during COVID-19 Pandemic.

Cristina Mares prepares to give birth during COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Just being away from the hospital and in a more peaceful place where I don’t have to think about the virus is more soothing for me,” Mares told Fox News. “There are just a lot of elements in the hospital that you don’t feel like you are in control of.”

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Mares is not alone in her decision to look outside of the hospital. The Austin Area Birthing Center (ABC) in Texas said they have seen a “substantial” increase in inquiries since the pandemic began.

“At our North Austin location, we had a 43 percent increase in inquiries, and at our South Austin location, we had a 51 percent increase in inquires,” clinic director Samantha Evans told Fox News.

The Austin Area Birthing Center received nearly 100 percent more inquiries in March of 2020 due to COVID-19 Pandemic compared to 2019.

The Austin Area Birthing Center received nearly 100 percent more inquiries in March of 2020 due to COVID-19 Pandemic compared to 2019.

The spike in inquiry numbers is directly related to COVID-19.

“I think the first inquiries we were getting in March were people who were very concerned about the infection risk of going to the hospital and it initially seemed people wouldn’t have any support,” Evans said. “As people have realized that isn’t the case, we are seeing less of an uptick, but our numbers are still higher than this time last year.”

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists noticed a similar trend. Brenna Hughes, the Vice Chair of Obstetrics and Quality at Duke University, said the concerns women are having is “understandable.”

“Women are understandably, particularly worried about COVID. We are definitely seeing a fair bit of discussion around birthing centers,” Hughes said.

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Hughes said, as of now, it is still too early to determine what could happen to a baby during pregnancy, but adds so far the data has been “pretty reassuring.”

“We need to collect more wide-spread data across the US… but so far there seems to not be a big effect on in-utero risk to baby so we haven’t really seen any significant risk of transmission," she said.

Hughes adds there have been “a few reports of transmission” and those cases are “definitely being monitored.”

There will also be a heavy focus on how babies are impacted in the first trimester as the pandemic continues.

Expecting mothers are encouraged to communicate with their doctors and do what is best for themselves.

Expecting mothers are encouraged to communicate with their doctors and do what is best for themselves.

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Both the birthing center and the ACOG said that overall, most women are still choosing to go to the hospital for their birthing experience. They said the most important thing for expecting mothers is deciding what’s best for themselves.

“Accredited birthing centers and hospitals are doing the same things and we know that these are the safest places to give birth,” Hughes said. “The most important thing ACOG stresses, as always and especially now, is for women to continue communication with their doctors about their concerns for giving birth through the pandemic."