Jewish General delivery room partners ban painful for couples expecting during COVID-19 crisis
Published Saturday, April 4, 2020 8:36PM EDT Last Updated Sunday, April 5, 2020 8:33AM EDT
MONTREAL -- Expectant parents due to give birth at the Jewish General Hospital are upset over the hospital's decision not to allow partner's into the delivery room during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lauren Gazzard is scheduled to give birth at the hospital in June. She said the idea of doing so without her partner is overwhelming.
“The idea that I'll be completely alone like that, already at three months out, it feels like it's going to break me,” she said. “It just seems like a really, really inhumane protocol.”
The hospital's decision came after a pregnant woman's partner who was infected with the virus and showing symptoms entered the birthing centre.
Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann said she understands why the Jewish General implemented the rule.
“It was a very, very, very difficult episode,” she said. “Other hospitals in Quebec and, in general, people can accompany the woman who is giving birth but I think the Jewish General was completely taken aback and very concerned about this situation.”
Officials at the Jewish General did not respond to requests for comment. A petition calling on the hospital to reverse its decision has gathered over 50,000 signatures online.
Montreal doula Jenny Gold said she believes forcing mothers to give birth alone is cruel.
“The impact that this is going to have on people, having to give birth in these conditions now, won't only impact their immediate care, it's going to impact their mental health long term,” she said.
The World Health Organization released guidance for expecting mothers, saying pregnant women, including those diagnosed with COVID-19, have a right to high-quality care, which includes having a companion of choice present during delivery.
But perinatal therapist Rosa Caporicci said the risk of spreading the virus to healthcare workers could outweigh any potential psychological trauma.
“I do believe, with discussion, critical thinking and creativity, we can find ways of mitigating the emotional impacts, so that it's not detrimental,” she said.
But Gazzard and her husband, who are expecting their first daughter, said it's a hard decision to swallow, saying the actions of one person shouldn't affect the care others receive.
“I think there's a number of logical steps that can be placed,” she said. “Right now it really feels like some mud is being slung at a target and hoping it's going to stick.”