Please check back often as this page will be updated on a regular basis. (last update 8/25/2020)
At this time all in person events have been cancelled. Our annual Birth & Babies Fair for 2020 has been cancelled. Follow our Facebook page for virtual event updates.
Until further notice, TBC will not be accepting donations. We will facilitate dispersal of items if urgent need arises. If you are in urgent need of infant care supplies (formula, diapers, clothes) or need guidance or support for your planned hospital birth during what may be a challenging period of time, please email us at Thebirthingcircle@gmail.com and we will connect you to the proper resources. If you would like to help support families in need, please visit our Amazon wishlist. This is the easiest way for us to get diapers to those most affected by closures and work disruptions caused by COVID-19.
If you are considering transferring to an out of hospital birth, we have compiled a list of providers accepting transfers. We recommend that all birthing people request a copy of their records, even if you aren’t considering OOH birth.
Please sign this petition to help birthing people and their newborns stay together even with PUI or positive COVID-19 status. Additional information regarding these new policies and ways to be prepared, below.
We have been made aware of a concerning new policy being implemented at Frederick Health Hospital (FHH) and other local hospitals regarding COVID-19, mandatory testing and separation of newborns from their birthing parent, should testing be refused, or in cases where test results are not available yet. This is deeply concerning to us and to many of the families we serve. Not only is it a violation of patients’ rights, it is detrimental to the establishment of bonding/breastfeeding and overall well-being of the birthing person and their newborn. We have emailed FHH and local legislators our concerns and we encourage you to do the same. Below is a link to a petition to sign and sample email, with sources, that you can send to FHH and your representatives. Our team is working on a list of any and all possible contacts to reach out to. We will update this post once that is complete.
If you are birthing soon (even if you’re planning an out of hospital birth, in the event of transfer), it is within your right to advocate for and make your own decisions regarding this policy and it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for yourself and your birthing team. Below the email template we’ve provided, we’ll link some additional resources that may be helpful. As always, reach out to us via private message if you need additional assistance navigating your birth during this unprecedented time. We are here to serve you!
Email Template (it is a good idea to personalize this by including a few sentences about why this policy is detrimental to you or why you feel it is harmful to birthing families):
“It has become public knowledge, that effective immediately, the BirthPlace at Frederick Health Hospital (FHH) is requiring COVID-19 testing of all birthing people prior to or upon entry to the labor and delivery unit and is treating all people as a person under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 until a negative test determines otherwise. If a patient is classified as a PUI or as COVID-19 positive, FHH is separating birthing people from their newborn baby at birth by placing the newborn in a “isolette in the mother’s room” and PUI and/or “Positive mother, spouse will wear a mask and will not touch the newborn if the newborn is out of the isolette”. If a COVID-19 test is declined, FHH is treating the birthing person as a PUI and will separate them from their newborn baby as specified above. FHH is also prohibiting “direct breastfeeding” of the newborn for any PUI or COVID-19 positive patients. These policies go against the Patient Bill of Rights and are not evidence based, are unnecessarily traumatizing to birthing families and are an incredible misuse of hospital resources and staff.
Furthermore, these policies are not in line with the clinical advice of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and The World Health Organization (WHO). In a publication released on May 26, 2020 by the WHO, they state: “Separation causes cumulative harms, including disrupting breastfeeding and limiting its protection against infectious disease, which has disproportionate impacts on vulnerable infants. Separation also presumes the replaceability of breastfeeding – a risk that is magnified in emergencies. Moreover, separation does not ensure lower viral exposure during hospitalizations and post‐discharge, and contributes to the burden on overwhelmed health systems. Finally, separation magnifies maternal health consequences of insufficient breastfeeding and compounds trauma in communities who have experienced long‐standing inequities and violence, including family separation. Taken together, separating PUI/confirmed SARS‐CoV‐2 positive mothers and their infants may lead to excess preventable illnesses and deaths among infants and women around the world” (1). The CDC advises that the decision of separation should be a collaborative choice made between provider and birthing person and ultimately the birthing person should choose: “…the risks and benefits of temporary separation of the mother from her baby should be discussed with the mother by the healthcare team, and decisions about temporary separation should be made in accordance with the mother’s wishes” (2). Additionally, The WHO advises that “Mothers and infants should be enabled to remain together and practise skin-to-skin contact, kangaroo mother care and to remain together and to practise rooming-in throughout the day and night, especially immediately after birth during establishment of breastfeeding, whether they or their infants have suspected, probable, or confirmed COVID-19” (3).
To reiterate, these types of threatening, non-evidence based policies are detrimental to the bonding experience of the birthing person and their newborn and will negatively affect breastfeeding outcomes. These policies have the potential to increase preventable illness and death in infants and birthing people and will disproportionately be used against birthing people of color and those of marginalized communities.
While we understand the COVID-19 situation is constantly changing and there are many unknowns, we demand that FHH and any other hospital who may be enforcing similar separation policies, follow the guidance of leading, reputable health organizations like the CDC and WHO. This current policy places unnecessary stress and trauma on birthing people and health care workers, uses large amounts of critical PPE, and increases risk of infection of the newborn as they are exposed to a greater number of caregivers and are prevented from potentially receiving crucial SARS‐CoV‐2 antibodies found in breastmilk. The Birthing Circle urges FHH to implement common sense policies based on CDC and WHO guidelines, including immediate skin to skin after birth, direct breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and rooming in with the newborn. These can be completed safely for PUI and COVID-19 positive patients by wearing proper PPE and following heightened hand washing hygiene. The decision of physical separation of a birthing person from their newborn is one that should be made jointly between patient and provider without threatening policies or medical coercion.”
For families birthing soon, this information may be helpful:
This link from Evidence Based Birth includes a sample informed consent form for refusal to separate birthing parent from newborn:
Here are some suggested responses when separation is presented by hospital staff:
I would like to talk with the Patient Advocate.”
“Thank you for your recommendation that my baby be removed from me to protect my baby from covid19. I respectfully waive that treatment option. Is there a waiver I can sign?”
“I would be happy to discuss this with the charge nurse or the legal advocate but I would prefer to go against medical advice regarding this treatment plan.”
Have a witness. Ask for the written policy for this treatment plan. Be polite but firm.