AUSTIN, Texas - Midwives are health professionals trained to care for and support women during pregnancy labor and birth.
The demand for midwives has increased in the past months because more mothers are opting to have at home births, as COVID19 numbers continue to fluctuate.
“I think in this country birthing outside hospital is not the norm but in a lot of countries it is fully integrated into the healthcare system.”
Julia Bower is a certified nurse midwife, a registered nurse and a family nurse practitioner.
With more than 20 years of experience she says assisting with women’s’ pregnancy, labor and delivery is truly rewarding.
Bower says, “now in this country the c-section rate is about 33% so a third of women who go into labor end up being delivered by cesarean and in my practice that rate is closer to 5% and that’s true nationally for home birth midwives. We only deal with low-risk women which is part of why our risk is lower.”
Because she’s been doing this for decades she’s been able to see all types of pregnancies.
But more recently, during the world pandemic, she’s seen an increase in the amount of women interested in at home deliveries.
“I think everybody’s getting a lot more calls, inquiries, people who are concerned about going to the hospital with corona either getting infected or their baby being taken away if they test positive. Just feeling uneasy with the hospitals. Other people they’ve gone to their OB appts. where there’s a lot more people coming and going and they feel it’s too much exposure risk and they don’t feel comfortable with that.”
Now she visits half her patients at their homes, and half virtually.
“Statistics on any infection before corona statistics show its better at home for postpartum infection, uterine infections or infections in labor are much lower at home than what people have in a hospital.”
She says in a home you’re used to the bacteria there, but when you go to hospitals there is bacteria that doesn’t live inside homes or anywhere else. So there’s a higher risk of getting an infection that your body has never seen before.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists in the U.S. approximately 35,000 births per year occur in the home. That’s 0.9 %.
The CDC says some babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth. It is unknown if these babies got the virus before, during, or after birth. Most newborns who have tested positive for COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms and have recovered fully. However, there are a few reports of newborns with severe illness.
“We don’t know what the long term effects are for babies who are exposed in utero or recently born we just don’t know there haven’t been enough of them,” Bower adds.
The CDC says mothers may feel increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.
The agency adds - you should talk to your healthcare provider about how to stay healthy and take care of yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.