‘It’s something I never imagined having to do alone’: Women face childbirth without partners amid coronavirus outbreak

(NEW YORK) –For Jen Santamaria, a New York City woman expecting her first child, it’s the unknowns of childbirth that scare her.

These aren’t the typical unknowns like wondering exactly how much does labor hurt or whether I’ll need to be induced. Amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the unknowns include something she never imagined just weeks ago: that her husband, Jesse, would not able to be present at the birth of their child.

On Sunday, NewYork-Presbyterian hospital announced that in an effort to promote patient safety, they would not permit visitors, including birthing partners and support people for obstetric patients. “We understand that this will be difficult for our patients and their loved ones, but we believe that this is a necessary step to promote the safety of our new mothers and children,” the hospital said on its web site.

Santamaria is planning to deliver at Mount Sinai hospital and is worried they will soon follow suit.

“I’m a wreck and just trying to hold it together and take one day at a time,” Santamaria, 30 weeks pregnant and a senior communications manager at Twitter, told “Good Morning America.” She said not having her husband with her during childbirth was her biggest fear.

She is not alone. One March 17, a newly-formed Facebook group called Pregnant During COVID-19 Pandemic was formed by Lynzy Coughlin, an emergency medical physician assistant. Less than a week later, membership is approaching 9,000.

“The most common concerns [among the members] at this time tend to be the uncertainty of being able to have support at the time of delivery, giving birth during a pandemic and the emotional stress that goes with keeping a newborn safe,” she said. Being a pregnant healthcare worker is also a hot topic, Coughlin said.

Santamaria herself had posted a Twitter thread documenting her unease last week. “The responses were more than I could have hoped for,” she said of the words of encouragement she received.

But even with the support of others, she still has many worries. One of her top concerns, she told “GMA,” is what will transpire if something were to happen to Santamaria in childbirth that left her unable to make decisions for the baby.

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