Hospital births during COVID-19


A number of expectant mothers are having concerns about going to hospitals to deliver their babies

SAN ANGELO, Texas — As we start the second month of “Stay at Home” measures across the Concho Valley, a number of expectant mothers are having concerns about going to hospitals to deliver their babies.

“As scary as everything is, you don’t want to have a baby during these times but everything has been great so far,” said Ayrn Nealey.

Nealey gave birth to a baby boy this week at Shannon Medical Center. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the hospital is only allowing patients to have one visitor during their hospital stay.
The mother of two said she was nervous to have her baby in the middle of a pandemic, but the restrictions and precautions put in place at the hospital made her feel more comfortable.

“Getting here and seeing how restricted everything is and how separated everything is, it’s more calming than nerve-wracking,” explained Nealey.

There have been no cases of transmission of the virus from mother to baby in utero, but according to Shannon Medical Center OB/GYN Dr. Jenny Wiggins-Smith, the baby could easily contract the virus shortly after delivery.

At Shannon Medical Center, expectant mothers deliver their babies at the Women and Children’s Hospital. At this time, patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 are in a different tower across the street from the Women and Children’s Hospital. Upon arrival, all patients and those accompanying them are screened before they may enter the building.

“At this time we are not keeping COVID-19 patients or any suspicious patients at this wing of the hospital and that is to protect pregnant women and newborns,” said Dr. Wiggins-Smith.

According to Dr. Wiggins-Smith, women should not be afraid to deliver babies at the hospital during this time, as they are taking extra precautions to keep both mom and baby safe.

“Some people have expressed concern over delivering at a hospital and believe a home birth is a better option but we can’t agree with that because we have hospital disinfectant, everyone is masked, the baseline risk for home birth still exists. We have access to the blood bank here, pain control and neonatal resuscitation all of which are important,” added Dr. Wiggins-Smith, “We still offer a low-intervention labor and delivery for patients who desire that, and have it done on safe parameters that are in everybody’s best interest.”

Dr. Wiggins-Smith also stressed the importance of maintaining social distancing and keeping a newborn safe once leaving the hospital.

“The newborn has a vulnerable and immature immune system. While we want everyone to celebrate, we want to stress their safety at this time. Using technology methods to introduce your new baby to family members is optimal at this time until we are able to flatten the curve and the threat of this virus is gone,” continued Dr. Wiggins-Smith.

Nealey expressed that near the beginning, her and her husband were concerned about not allowing their daughter and parents to meet their baby boy shortly after his birth, but both understood the precautions taken by the hospital.

“It’s been nice to see how precautionary everyone has been around here,” added Nealey.

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Current status of COVID-19 testing in San Angelo