In early March, Taylor DeClue and her fiancé left New Orleans to celebrate their pregnancy in Illinois with family. They had no idea it was the last time they’d be home before their son arrived due to the rapidly increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in New Orleans.
“The decision was made an hour before I was supposed to get on the plane to head back. I’m not so much worried about catching the virus, but I am worried about the impact a hospital will have on my son’s birth,” DeClue explained.
She’s thankful they have family support. But now her due date is approaching quickly — she’s 35 weeks and while she’s met with a doula, she doesn’t have an obstetrician (OB).
“The plan was to give birth with a midwife in New Orleans. Now since we have relocated and many people are switching to home births or birthing centers, our options have become limited.”
DeClue is one of the millions who’ve experienced the sudden shift due to COVID-19. As the number of confirmed cases and deaths continues to rise, those with impending births are playing the waiting game, hoping the overcrowding of hospitals comes to an end. Though everyone has been impacted, for Black women who must already navigate a territory of birth that includes limited options due to increased risk for complications and discrimination, the consequences hit even harder.
Across the United States in Texas, Brittney Hall and her husband Tyler are also experiencing pandemic-related shifts. “My doctor told me if either of us comes into contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, we would have to be quarantined away from our newborn baby for 14 days. The thought of that breaks our hearts,” Brittney said, whose 20-week scan later this week is the last in-person appointment her husband can attend.
Hospitals across the country are doing what they can to protect all patients and staff despite the often surreptitious manifestations of COVID-19. After multiple chains banned visitation outright and public outrage ensued — N.Y Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced an executive order requiring all hospitals, public and private, to allow one partner in labor and delivery.