Apr 4, 2020 - Health

How the coronavirus is upending childbirth

Expectant mother and coronavirus
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Expectant mothers are facing some daunting new realities amid the coronavirus outbreak.

What's happening: Some doctors, especially in areas that haven't seen large numbers of cases yet, are encouraging women to induce their labor. That can help keep mothers and babies out of the hospital later, when the risk of a coronavirus infection will be higher, and also helps free up beds that may be needed for COVID-19 patients.

  • Hospitals in coronavirus hotspots also have banned partners and doulas from delivery units, to keep everyone's exposure limited.

Yes, but: Several doctors told Axios an induction isn't always a good idea. In some cases, it can prolong labor, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn't recommend it before the 39th week of pregnancy.

  • "Inducing them now doesn't mean that in a week you're suddenly out of pregnant patients," said Abimbola Aina, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Doing things without an obstetrical indication is probably not the safest thing to do at the moment."

Family planning is also taking a hit, as hospitals temporarily suspend procedures such as in vitro fertilization.

Go deeper