Your Maternity Journey Vol. 4

COVID-19 Safety in the Delivery Room

Pregnancy is a special but stressful time—especially if your baby is due during a pandemic. It’s only natural to worry about contracting COVID-19 while you are pregnant. Fortunately, unless you have severe risk factors, such as diabetes, you are no more at risk than before you conceived. Just keep following the safety precautions!

MarinHealth, in alignment with UCSF Health, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, recommends that pregnant women have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at an increased risk for severe illness and hospitalization and face a higher risk for pregnancy complications, including preterm birth. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your baby. You can also rest assured that COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to infertility or miscarriage. If you’re still on the fence, talk with your OB/GYN or primary care doctor.

For labor and delivery, MarinHealth follows California’s official COVID-19 safety protocols. Laboring women are tested upon admission and partners are screened. Despite California’s reopening, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) still requires masks to be work in healthcare settings, so masks are required throughout the hospital at all times. We don’t require that you and your partner wear masks when you’re alone in the room, but you do need to mask up whenever anyone else enters. If you are having a planned C-section, you will be asked to come in for a COVID-19 test ahead of your scheduled delivery.

Due to California regulations, the only people currently allowed in the delivery room with you are your partner and a pre-approved, vaccinated doula, if you want one (please call 1-415-925-7000 to have your doula approved). Your partner/birth support person must provide either proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result from the past 72 hours in order to accompany you in the delivery room. While it can be disappointing not to have friends and family visit, many new moms find that they appreciate the opportunity to rest, practice breastfeeding and bond with their newborn.

Since the pandemic began, we have delivered babies for many women who were positive for COVID-19, including several C-sections. Strict safety measures are in place for everyone’s protection. We are constantly cleaning and sanitizing all areas of the hospital. Every labor, delivery, recovery, postpartum (LDRP) room in the Maternity Care Department can be converted into a negative pressure room to keep pathogens contained. Our team wears extra personal protective equipment (PPE) when assisting COVID-19 positive women. If both you and your partner are COVID-19 positive but don’t have symptoms, we will allow your partner to stay in the room with you. We can also recommend specially trained doulas who have experience assisting COVID-19 positive women.

We test the babies of COVID-19 positive women at birth and then again after 24 hours. Parents are given the choice of whether to keep their babies in the room with them and most elect to do so. There is no indication that COVID-19 can be transmitted through breast milk and COVID-19 positive women still get in-person help from our lactation specialists.

The biggest challenge of giving birth in a pandemic may be finding support once you get home. We encourage moms-to-be to sign up for our prenatal Zoom classes. Then you can segue to the virtual Mom’s Support group for advice from a Licensed Midwife/International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and connect with other new moms. If you are having problems breastfeeding, call our Lactation Services at 1-415-925-7522 to make an appointment. However, don’t let your guard down after you have the baby. If family members want to come over, they will need to be fully vaccinated or get tested and quarantine before coming over. Your visitors should also have a current Tdap vaccine to protect your baby from whooping cough (pertussis).


Making Your Home Safe for Your Baby

When you’re pregnant, it’s easy to provide your baby with a safe environment. All you have to do is eat right, take care of yourself, and listen to your doctor. Once the baby’s born, his or her environment isn’t as easy to safeguard. Follow these guidelines now to prepare your home for your new baby.

General Safety Tips

  • If it’s broken, now’s the time to fix it. Check for lead paint (if your house was built before 1978), and hire a professional if you need to remove it. Replace that cracked windowpane.
  • Make sure your water heater is set below 120 degrees. You can install a temperature guard on your heater to make sure the temperature can’t get any higher.
  • Check your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. Install UL listed carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors and check the batteries on existing detectors.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher and make sure you know how to use it.
  • Add emergency contacts and medical information to your phone that can be accessed even in locked mode.
  • Put non-slip pads under all rugs. You don’t want to fall with a baby in your arms.
  • Plug all open ground-level outlets with childproof coverings.
  • Unplug and store electric appliances when they are not in use.
  • Check your house and yard for poisonous plants and move them out of baby’s reach. Some of the most common toxic houseplants include Philodendron, Pothos, Arrowhead Lily, Peace Lily, Dieffenbachia, Oleander, Caladium, Mother-In-Law's Tongue, and Ivy.

In the Nursery

  • Finish painting and wallpapering at least eight weeks before your due date to avoid exposing the baby to potentially harmful fumes.
  • Make sure the crib is properly and securely assembled—no loose screws! There should be no gaps between the mattress and crib. Crib slats should be no more than two and 3/8 inches apart.
  • Place the crib so the baby won’t be able to reach windows, heaters, lamps, wall decorations, or cords.
  • Put a thick rug or carpet below the changing table and by the crib to cushion falls. That baby will be old enough to try to climb out before you know it.
  • Store baby wipes and other diapering supplies where you can reach them from the changing table, but baby can’t.
  • Put finger-pinch guards for hinges on the door hinges.

In the Living Room

  • Get down on the ground to see things from a crawling baby’s point of view. This will help you uncover hazards you never knew were there.
  • Remove heavy items like lamps or knickknacks from end tables or coffee tables.
  • Make sure your TV isn’t precariously positioned on a piece of furniture. Every year, babies are injured or killed because of an unstable TV/furniture combination.
  • As the baby starts to crawl and then cruise around the furniture, falls and collisions are the biggest living room danger. Add stick-on corners to furniture with sharp edges.
  • Anchor shelves to the walls before your baby turns into a toddler who likes to climb.

In the Kitchen and Dining Room

  • Don’t keep your cleaning products under the sink where a curious baby or toddler can get into them.
  • Use easily mounted magnetic locks that can be mounted on the inside of cabinets and are easy for grownups to open.
  • Get stove top-knob covers to prevent a baby old enough to stand up from turning on the burners.
  • Use placemats, not tablecloths. A crawling baby can pull the tablecloth off, along with whatever’s on it.
  • If you plan to use a highchair that attaches to the dining room table, make sure the table is strong enough to hold it.

In the Bathroom and Laundry Room

  • Keep all medications (both prescription and over the counter) well out of reach. Child-safe packaging helps but toddlers can sometimes figure out how to open those pill bottles anyway.
  • Use latches for the medicine cabinet.
  • Get a toilet lock. A toddler can fall headfirst into a toilet or bucket and drown.
  • Remove cosmetics and shampoos from sink and tub ledges where an inquisitive baby can find them.

Other General Tips

  • Program emergency numbers in your phone. There are two ways to get poison control help: you can call 1-800-222-1222 or go online to www.poison.org.
  • Here’s an easy test to determine whether something is a choking hazard: put it through an old toilet paper tube. Anything that can fit inside is a choking hazard.
  • Vacuum regularly. Little things like beads, paper clips, or coins are choking hazards.
  • Place safety gates at the bottom of a staircase or the entrance to any room that's off-limits to the baby, such as an office or formal living room.
  • Place locks on liquor cabinets.
  • If you have doorstops, make sure they don’t have little caps a baby can remove. They are a choking hazard.
  • Keep batteries safely stowed away.