Expecting mothers fear giving birth alone as hospital policies change

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 11:16 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Hospitals across the nation are adjusting visitation policies amid the global coronavirus pandemic. In some states, officials have ruled mothers must give birth alone. As the number of cases grow in north Alabama, mothers are worried we’re next.

“Is that something we need to mentally prepare for," questioned Shannon Vanden Heuvel. "I have been told it is not out of the realm of possibility.”

Vanden Heuvel is just over 35 weeks pregnant.

The first time mother hired Kirsten Clark to be her doula during the process. She planned to have her husband and Clark in the delivery room.

Doula’s are similar to midwives. Midwifery just became legal in Alabama in 2017. Doula’s aren’t medical professionals but offer support and guidance to mother’s during delivery.

“My clients are really scared and I have some that are due soon. They’re just terrified," expressed Clark. “We have been advocating to be exempt from that visitor policy.”

Just a few weeks ago, Clark experienced a terrifying birth.

She was Victoria Deyton’s doula for the birth of her 2nd child. The birthing process didn’t go as planned.

“Her nurse was just not staying present in the room and just kind of ignoring my clients symptoms and not taking them seriously," stated Clark.

Deyton’s uterus ruptured.

“At this point, I was in a lot of pain and realized it could be a bad situation," said Deyton. “His assessment immediately was that we needed to get a c-section. It’s really a life-threatening situation for the baby and can be really bad for the mother as well.”

Deyton credits Clark’s presence for saving her baby’s life, and described her services as “invaluable.”

Most hospitals in the Tennessee Valley only allow one visitor.

Clark wants that one visitor to be educated on how to advocate for mom, while she continues to advocate to be present in the room.

Meantime, she knows of mothers reaching out to midwives and doula’s to help them delivery their babies at home.

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