Home births on the rise during coronavirus pandemic

Medical Watch

CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN/WEWS) – With the pandemic taking over hospitals and making social distance a priority, some expecting mothers are deciding to give birth at home.

In March, Rachel O’Donnell was a busy mom of three. Now in May, she’s an even busier mom of four.

O’Donnell’s newest baby girl was born at home on April 18.

“You know that whatever plan you have is going to do out the window because none of them ever go according to plan,” O’Donnell said.

She can say that with a laugh now, but having her daughter at home was not the plan.

Another mother, Michelle Witten, changed her plan too, saying that with the uncertainty around the virus, she was anxious about going to her local hospital.

“I don’t want to do through the ER. During normal time that would be okay. But i’m really, really paranoid at this point,” Witten said.

At the very last minute, she made the switch from hospital to home.

“Around 8 o’clock, Colleen sent me her contract. I signed it electronically. Three hours later I went in to labor,” she said.

Witten had her second child, Maggie, on March 24. The very first day under the stay at home order.

These women aren’t alone about delivering children at home.

Colleen Kennedy-Schroeder was the midwife for O’Donnell and Witten.

“People realize this is a safer option in some ways,” Kennedy-Schroeder said. “Whether that’s mentally because you can have your support person there. Or physically because you’re avoiding the germs of the hospital.”

Taking a look over the last 12 months, searches for home births across the U.S. spiked in March and at different times in April. They climbed through March, and began to fall in April.

Kennedy-Schroeder says she normally takes the summer off, but O’Donnell took up one of those spaces. She said she’s glad she did.

“So even if I hadn’t planned a home birth, I would have had one anyway,” she said.

She was in labor for less than an hour. Her husband helped deliver their baby with Colleen on the phone.

O’Donnell said this was not the original plan but it was exactly how it was supposed to go.

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