Several midwives in San Luis Obispo County say they're seeing an increase in women looking to change their birth plans amid coronavirus concerns, with some soon-to-be moms even making the change just days before they're supposed to go into labor.
"I usually get 1-3 new calls a month and in the past two weeks I've had maybe 10 calls," said Tanya Walker, Licensed Midwife.
Home births make up less than three percent of births in the county but now midwives we spoke to say that could be changing as women are nervous about catching COVID-19 and not being able to have their families by their side as they deliver.
Hospitals have had to change policies amid the coronavirus pandemic to allow only one extra person alongside women who are giving birth.
"There's a lot of anxiety with not having the people there that they want to support them," said Alia Clark, Licensed Midwife.
Local midwives say they've had to change their practices to limit in-person contacts.
Virtual visits have been adopted for all non-essential appointments. Vitals and labs will still be conducted from home.
"I think it's important for people to know that midwives wear sterile gloves and bring medications for hemorrhage, the same medications that would be used in the hospital. We give IV fluids. We can administer antibiotics. We can do most of things they offer in the hospital," Walker said.
There is a concern for lack of personal protection equipment for midwives, as some say their orders are being canceled.
"Because we are not considered front line providers, we have been unable to secure any orders for masks. Our orders for gloves are being canceled left and right. We're really struggling right now. We've worked with the health department and Jordan Cunningham's office to get things materialized," explained Megan Bochum, a Midwife at Pacific Midwifery.
Women who are seeking home births have to be healthy and only expecting one child.
Those expecting twins are still advised to go to the hospital.
Clark says if you are looking to change your birth plan, think about your "why."
"What is your why for that? Is it just to avoid the disease or is it more than that? Because we as providers of out-of-hospital, community births believe it's a great first option for most people," she said.
"I think the most important thing is to not make this decision based on fear. I think they should educate themselves and do all the reading and education they can and if it still seems like a good plan, then go for it," Walker said.
One midwife we spoke to says these changes are making some women feel like they have more ownership over what happens to them.
"You're gonna be okay. You're gonna be able to do this. Whether you do it in a hospital or outside a hospital, women are really strong and I see women discovering that every day," Bochum said.