Morgan Dinunzio did not expect to be having a baby under the circumstances of a pandemic.

The Bancroft-area resident, who is 38-weeks pregnant, said she had intended to have her first baby at a Peterborough hospital. But concerns about COVID-19 changed her plans.

“With everything going on, once I heard they had cases there, and once I’ve seen how quickly it’s spreading everywhere else in the world,” Dinunzio said. “Midwives convinced me to do a home birth.”

Midwifery Services of Haliburton-Bancroft said that’s a trend amongst their clients, with more expecting families opting for home over hospital.

Registered midwife Stephanie Simon said about two-thirds of their clients are now choosing a home birth, versus about onethird before the pandemic. She said although Peterborough’s unit is a fairly closed area, their clients have still been worried about the transmission in the city.

“The safety net of being in the hospital doesn’t feel quite as safe anymore,” Simon said. “One is the worry that they themselves would get COVID-19. And the other, bigger concern we hear about is the babies might get it.”

“It worries me knowing there’s definitely cases at Peterborough hospital,” Dinunzio said. “Whereas I know in my home, who’s coming in and out of my house. A little more reassuring.”

Hospitals are also limiting how many support persons are allowed during birth. But Simon said they are still recommending hospital births for people with low risk.

But social distancing rules have impacted pregnancy as well. Simon said like everyone else, midwives have had to adjust, doing more remote conferencing, wearing protective equipment and upping sanitization.

“No longer having any face-to-face interaction has been quite different for us,” Simon said. “A lot more anxiety and worry. Spending a lot more time doing counselling appointments.”

However, Simon said fortunately, research is showing pregnant women are not more vulnerable to COVID-19, nor can they transmit to a child before birth. Dinunzio said there have been additional hurdles in the last weeks of her pregnancy, as she’s stayed home and relied more on her partner to take care of things such as shopping. Prenatal care has also been different, but she praised midwifery services.

“I was really thankful that I had them,” she said. “One of the midwives visited me at home for one of my visits. So, they’ve been really accommodating.”

Dinunzio said there is a lot of preparation with a home birth, but the midwives have been reassuring.

“I was a little skeptical at first, but they’ve been good,” she said. “I’m pretty confident about it.”

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