More women turning to home birth options amid pandemic

CSRA News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The pandemic may be sending people to the hospital, but for some expectant mothers, it’s sending them right back home.

Since delivering a baby in a hospital amid COVID-19 can be risky, some mothers are turning to home births. In some cases they are being directed to do so by their doctors. As they turn to this venture, it’s the green light the midwifery community needs to continue its legal walk.

“My biggest fear is not with the home birth. It’s actually with the hospital,” said Sonya Christian, an expectant mother.

She knew there was one thing she wanted while giving birth, to be surrounded by loved ones.

“Well, when I talked to my doctor I actually asked about if I had to go to the hospital, what are the restrictions,” Christian recalled. “And they explained to me that only one person could come in and the one person that comes in the room, if they leave the room they would not be able to come back in.”

With the option to have so few people she knows and loves present on delivery day and the threat of a virus, Christian said her doctor suggested a home birth.

Courtesy: Sonya Christian

“We all need support. We all need that encouragement and the positive mentalities,” said Christan, who is due in May.

More and more mothers are turning to this option across the country. Bellies to Babies Foundation Executive Director Corrinna Edwards said outside of high risk patients, her organization specializing in maternal healthcare can mitigate overburdened hospitals. Edwards, who doubles as a midwife and doula, told us she also sees an increase in mothers inquiring about switching from hospitals to home birth in her private practice.

Courtsey: Corrinna Edwards

“Questions such as insurance coverage, safety, availability as well as just trying to set up virtual consultations,” said Bellies to Babies Foundation Executive Director Corrinna Edwards. “So, I’ve had consultations daily for both Bellies to Babies Foundation as well as for my private practice for home births.”

About how many more would you say you’ve had? How many more daily consultations?

Edwards replied, “Well, I’m averaging right now three to four a day.”

Before the pandemic, she only saw inquiries once a week and she believes other direct entry midwives in the Peach State are seeing the same requests.

Georgia State Senator Lester Jackson, a healthcare provider and Chair of Urban Affairs told us his research uncovered families being separated during the crisis, which can impact a healthy, expectant mother.

“Healthy pregnancies need a support system,” said District 2 Senator Lester Jackson, who is also a dentist. He also said he feels home births can help alleviate hospitals too.

“Direct entry midwives have been delivering babies throughout this country for a number of years, since the early 1800s and they are a necessary resource,” said the Senator from the Savannah area.

Anisah Granger had a healthcare provider issue last year and at the last minute switched to having a home birth. She said it was the best experience and can’t imagine being told to choose one person during this pandemic.

“You do need that support because it’s a very difficult time,” Granger said. You want the people that you love around you.”

Granger’s mother served as her doula.

“As her doula, I kept Anisah safe and focused on what she was doing, after knowing for sure that birth was soon to follow and still no answer from her midwife, I called the community Midwives at Bellies to Babies. They came right away. Thank you God we knew them well and they had been along side of Anisah’s pregnancy the whole time. Anisah’s birth was amazing and could not have been better planned,” said Kiana Gadson, mother and doula.

While midwives alleviate hospitals, there is a push to legalize midwifery in Georgia. Sen. Jackson said two identical bills have gone through the House and Senate, but session is suspended right now through June, pushing the fight to next year.

Edwards, however, said she has sent letters to several state leaders in hopes of bypassing the legislation.

Senator Jackson supports.

“The public health director can reverse her decision and legalize midwifery, direct entry midwifery with just a signed letter. We also believe the governor can sign and executive order.”

This news comes on the sunset of Black Maternal Health Week, which is an effort that includes shining a light on maternal mortality. To learn more about that, click here.

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