When Rachel Z. found out she was pregnant with her first child in October of 2019, she was elated: A new chapter full of excitement and possibilities. Never would she have predicted a global pandemic was on the horizon.
Yet four months into her pregnancy, COVID-19 was making headlines and starting to spread across the area.
“I was terrified,” describes Rachel when she first heard of COVID’s spread, knowing she had plans to deliver her baby in May at Doylestown Health’s VIA Maternity Center. “There was so much uncertainty.”
Rachel’s pregnancy required nonstress tests once a month and more frequent-than-normal ultrasounds performed at the hospital. She became concerned about potential coronavirus exposure.
A Comforting Presence
However, Rachel’s fears were soon put at ease by the consistent, calm reassurance she received throughout her prenatal care and stay at the hospital.
“I worry about every little thing, but I can’t say enough good things about all the hospital staff who helped me. They were so calm with me and understanding, and put medical terminology in lay terms,” Rachel says. “Once my son was born and I was going home, I was happy for my son but sad I wasn’t going to see them anymore... I am so grateful for that experience.”
To control the spread of COVID-19, certain infection control procedures had to be put in place that include limits on visitors and movement within the hospital. However, the hospital continually reevaluates procedures based on the most up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Quality Baby Time
Still, the restrictions brought on by the pandemic are not all bad. Keeping babies at the bedside versus in the nursery has always been encouraged for parent-baby bonding, according to Marlene Rosenblum, RN, CCE, CIMI, parent education coordinator. Now more than ever, babies are rooming in with their parents for the duration of their stay.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we are seeing more of a desire from parents to keep babies at the bedside, especially during the night hours,” Marlene says.
Also, most of the baby care and testing is routinely done at the bedside giving a parents an up-close look at exactly how their baby is doing.
Unfortunately, the COVID restriction that prohibits family and friends from visiting is very challenging for the parents who want to share their baby with those closest to them. But there is an upside.
“What we are finding is that many new parents are enjoying having more uninterrupted downtime exclusively with the baby,” Marlene says.
Parents have more time to rest and they are more readily available to feed their babies according to their cues, so they seem more confident bringing babies home, she explains. “And we are seeing more parents wanting to leave the hospital a little earlier.”
Providing Help and Hope
As a way to help new moms navigate their pregnancies along with the pandemic, Doylestown Health offers a variety of hospital pre-and postnatal programs via Zoom. Rachel took advantage of all of the prenatal classes, and she’s still involved in the postpartum mom’s group. “I’ve made new friends through our group — I’ve needed that support,” Rachel admits. “It’s all been such a positive experience.”
Truly inspired by her care and the compassionate staff she met, Rachel thought Doylestown Health would be a great place to work some day. As luck would have it, four months after giving birth, she enthusiastically landed a job in the health system. “If it weren’t for the kindness showed to me by the Doylestown Health associates, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Rachel, smiling. “I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m very thankful for that.”
While the pandemic is a challenging time for all moms-to-be, Rachel and Marlene encourage them to focus on and enjoy their pregnancy.
“It’s a tough time for our parents. But I try to get the point across to them that regardless of the chaos in the world, this pregnancy is a special moment in their lives, one to be enjoyed,” says Marlene. “If they take the time to breathe, prepare within, become centered and connected with baby, they will get through this challenging time together.”
About Doylestown Health
Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.
About Doylestown Health's VIA Maternity Center
Doylestown Health's VIA Maternity Center is rated among the best in the region for maternity care with services available for every stage of pregnancy through the birth experience. The VIA Maternity Center features a 32-bed maternity unit that includes 9 labor, delivery & recovery rooms, 22 private post-partum rooms, and a Level II NICU staffed by CHOP neonatologists.
Doylestown Health Obstetrics and Gynecology
Doylestown Health's expert OB/GYN physicians and certified nurse midwives provide skilled and compassionate health care throughout all stages of a woman's life, from adolescence through menopause and adulthood. And for families welcoming new babies, Doylestown Health's VIA Maternity Center offers labor, delivery and postpartum care in a state-of-the-art, family-centered facility — complete with a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit staffed round-the-clock by CHOP neonatologists.