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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Pregnant in the Time of COVID

How has COVID-19 changed the landscape of maternal care? We asked Ricci Ros, director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

FL: How has COVID-19 changed your protocols for pregnant and laboring moms and their families?

Ricci Ros: At Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Petaluma Valley Hospital, we believe bringing your baby into this world should be a precious, safe, and joyous experience despite anxiety around COVID. We have developed a comprehensive plan to keep our families together as much as possible while keeping our community safe.
We require our staff to wear masks and face shields to protect both our patients and caregivers, and we test all patients upon admission to ensure the safety of the patients and staff. Other precautions we are taking include: conducting temperature checks and screening everyone who enters the hospital for COVID symptoms; isolating positive and suspected COVID patients; social distancing whenever possible; and executing thorough cleaning practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the event a mother and baby test positive for COVID and have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, they can continue to room together. We understand the importance of bonding during those first moments together.

We continue to offer new moms lactation support both during and after their stay, allowing newborns and parents to safely enjoy the vital activity of immediate skin-to-skin bonding. Mothers who test positive for COVID are encouraged to breastfeed with a few precautions; moms who do not want to breastfeed will be offered donated human milk. We support both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding practices.

FL: What is the role of birth partners/spouses during this time?

RR: We encourage the mother’s spouse or partner to support her in whatever way they are comfortable. We are family-centered and our focus is to educate and support [mother and partner] as a team.
While the number of visitors at the hospital is restricted at this time in order to align with recommendations from the CDC and State of California, we know the importance of having a support person to guide moms through labor. So we encourage one support person to stay with mom during delivery and postpartum.

FL: What is the role of doulas during this time?

RR: We understand that many laboring mothers wish to have a doula to support them during labor. We are currently in the process of approving the presence of a certified doula, in addition to the spouse/partner, at all births at both Petaluma Valley Hospital and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. In addition, all of our labor and delivery nurses are doula-trained. They can help mothers through the labor process and provide comfort with a number of non-medical and medical interventions.

FL: What can parents-to-be expect at your facility?

RR: At Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley Hospital, we offer individualized care that is family-centered. Our team of obstetricians, midwives, and doula-trained nurses is here to support your labor process and birth plan. Childbirth is a natural process and we avoid complicating it, if it is not necessary.
We care for everyone from low acuity to more complicated deliveries and strive to provide the least invasive options, as possible. The UCSF Benioff Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery is available at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for infants that require a little extra care due to prematurity or other issues that may require advanced care.
We offer alternative pain relief options, such as, for diversional therapy, virtual reality goggles with specific labor programs voice-guided by doulas. We continue to support vaginal births after cesarean section, and we have an 85 percent success rate.

FL: What would your advice be for those who are pregnant or have newborns during this time of COVID and wildfires?

RR: We encourage pregnant and new mothers and families to stay inside and frequently wash their hands. If you do need to go out, practice masking and social distancing. Follow your obstetrician’s or midwife’s recommendation for your care.

FL: Is there any additional information you would like to add?

RR: While the number of visitors to the hospital is limited due to COVID, we continue to offer “Super Sibling” capes and masks to new big brothers and sisters [so that] they feel special and recognized as the family brings a newborn into the home. Please ask your care provider for a “Super Sibling” cape and mask for your children at home.

We also encourage video visits with extended family and friends, and have iPads with video chat technology available for those who don’t have access to a cell phone or tablet.