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COVID-19: Labor and Delivery Expands Visitor Policy

The New Policy Matches that of Neighboring Institutions as Well as Medical Facilities Nationwide

Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has adjusted its visitor policy, now allowing one visitor to remain with the new mom throughout her hospital stay.

As the nation locked down during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cedars-Sinai – like most major medical centers – implemented best protection practices with precautions like limiting visitors to one person for each pregnant patient and only while the mother was in labor and delivery.

The new policy, which also states the visitor will not be allowed re-entry if they leave the medical center, matches that of neighboring peer institutions. The expanded policy is aimed at helping patients during one of life's most significant events, the birth of a new life.

“We hope this change allows for a more comfortable stay for our patients and alleviates some of the anxiety associated with this difficult time,” said Sarah Kilpatrick, MD, PhD, chair of Cedars-Sinai's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “During these unprecedented times, we are committed to doing everything we can to protect the health of our laboring mothers and ensure the safety of their babies.”

Cedars-Sinai continues to take several steps to ensure the safety of all its patients – including pregnant and delivering mothers – visitors, healthcare providers and essential staff members during the pandemic. However, research on pregnancy and the coronavirus remains limited and the nation's low rate of testing makes it difficult to know how many pregnant women are infected.

Sarah J. Kilpatrick, MD, PhD
During these unprecedented times, we are committed to doing everything we can to protect the health of our laboring mothers and ensure the safety of their babies.
Sarah J. Kilpatrick, MD, PhD

“Pregnant women do not seem to have had significantly worse outcomes from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women,” said Kilpatrick. “Although like everyone else, it is important to follow behaviors that we know help reduce the risk of infection such as frequent hand washing, staying away from people who are sick, avoiding touching your face and practicing social distancing.”

There also is little known about whether pregnant mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to their baby, although Kilpatrick said the virus has not been found in cord blood or amniotic fluid, which would be expected if it had been transmitted while the baby was in utero. Similarly, there has not been any evidence of congenital health problems associated with COVID-19 infection.

“That said, specific research is very limited,” said Kilpatrick. “There have been a few babies globally who tested positive for the virus soon after they were born, and fortunately, all did well in the newborn period.”

Although there are many unknowns surrounding COVID-19, Kilpatrick and team do not recommend parents changing their birth plan to a home birth or birth center solely for the purpose of lowering the risk of contracting COVID-19 infection. That’s because there is no data to support the belief that giving birth outside of a hospital lowers the risk of getting COVID-19.

“Hospitals, including Cedars-Sinai, are required to adhere to strict disinfection guidelines and healthcare workers must be screened for contagious disease before working with patients,” said Kilpatrick. “Our labor and delivery staff are trained well for emergencies that can occur during childbirth.”

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Pregnancy and COVID-19: Q&A With Dr. Melissa Wong