The Next Normal: Giving birth during COVID-19 pandemic

The Next Normal: Giving birth during COVID-19 pandemic

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - What to expect when you’re expecting has changed while the world experiences the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re expecting a baby and head to the hospital to give birth, things may be different than you expected.

First, you’ll get screened for symptoms of COVID-19.

“They first go through the initial process out in front of the hospital,” said Lacey Williams, a registered nurse in the labor and delivery unit at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler. “They get their temperature checked and ask questions like have you traveled recently, do you have any symptoms.”

This means you’ll still check-in at the hospital’s admitting desk.

“You can come straight to our unit and we will get you admitted,” said Marcie Tunstall, the maternal and neonatal program coordinator at UT Health East Texas in Tyler. “You’ll stay on this unit the entire stay at the hospital.”

Hospitals are also limiting the number of people who can visit.

“We limit our visitors,” said Tunstall. “Currently, we allow one non-interchangeable visitor with the delivering mother.”

Sarah McCuan became a mom on May 18. She said it was really hard to be without her family.

“I think one thing I missed out on was getting to have my family and his family there,” said McCuan. “That was really hard [because] my family is very close, so it was really difficult not being able to have them there; especially for my mom because I’m the youngest and this is the first grandbaby."

“I just admire Sarah and Tyler (Sarah’s husband) so much, because they had incredible medical help, no doubt, but they did this all on their own; there was nobody else in that room or in the hospital that they could lean on, they were in there alone. I admire their strength and their commitment to each other and seeing it through.”

In addition to all hospital employees, McCuan and her husband we’re also asked to wear masks.

“We’re having everyone wear masks, which is really different for all of us to get used to, especially the patients,” said Williams. “They have to wear them in the hallways or in their room when the nurses are in there.”

McCuan’s family waited outside of the hospital for the baby to arrive and used technology to stay involved.

“Patients have utilized Zoom, Facetime, or other avenues to have families interact and be part of it the best they can from their social distancing standpoint,” said Williams.

“We were texting them updates and taking videos and pictures and sending them as much information as we could,” said McCuan. “So, it was like they were there.”

Aside from visitor restrictions and wearing masks, nurses said the care is the same, but now with lots and lots of extra cleaning.

“We’re cleaning extra,” said Tunstall. “All the staff are wearing hair coverings and masks and gloves when making patient contact.”

“Our housekeepers are amazing and they work around the clock to make sure that rooms are sanitary, things are cleaned and they are disinfected,” said Williams. “We’re constantly hand washing and using hand gel in and out of the room.”

Nurses said extra precautions are taken when necessary.

“If a family was immuno-compromised, we try to limit the number of nurses in and out of the room, so they have a limited interaction with the amount of germs,” said Williams.

Both Christus Trinity Mother Frances and UT Health East Texas hospitals in Tyler said they have negative pressure rooms and protocols in place in case they have an expectant mother diagnosed with COVID-19.

**In the on-air version of this story, we said McCuan had her baby on June 18. She had her baby on May 18.**

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