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What labor and delivery at MCH is like during COVID-19

"Prenatal care and labor and delivery are very different than they were before, pre-pandemic," said Christopher Petr, M.D., OBGYN at MCH.

ODESSA, Texas — It's all in an effort to keep babies and mothers safe.

The prenatal clinic and labor and delivery unit at Medical Center Hospital have been practicing infection control just like everyone else, screening the patient's sole support person in the hospital and making sure these soon-to-be mothers wear masks, even throughout the labor and delivery process.

"During labor, the challenge has been sometimes with pushing or if they need oxygen and so we have to react accordingly," Christopher Petr, M.D., OBGYN at MCH said. 

This reaction is on a case-by-case basis and could include a quick swap of a cloth mask for an oxygen mask.

But as far as the delivery protocol itself, that hasn't changed. 

"What is done as far as laboratories and care of the newborn is standard and it still continues, checking elective bilirubin at 24 hours," Petr said. 

Nurses still make sure the baby is feeding and breathing okay, but in the case where a mother or baby has COVID-19, the hospital is in the process of developing this protocol.

"We've had to prepare if there's an active labor patient that we have isolation rooms set up with negative pressure to where we can deliver safely where it's kind of a separate issue to contain the virus," Petr said. 

Doctors expect this protocol to remain in place until there is widespread vaccine use and the pandemic is over.

But if cases keep rising, they'll have to re-evaluate their plans...maybe even having pregnant women deliver without a family member or friend present.

But we haven't gotten to that point here in Odessa yet.

"As long as there's humans, there will be pregnancy and babies being born and so we move forward the best we can," Petr said. 


Right now, MCH is still allowing mothers to hold their babies skin to skin or swaddled after delivery.

Dr. Petr said he hasn't had any patients in labor and delivery with COVID-19.

He said he understands this can be a very unsettling time for new mothers, but encourages them to stay home, do grocery delivery, socially distance, limit visitors, hydrate and take vitamin C.

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