The Impact of Coronavirus on Community Birth
By now, most if not all of us, have heard of coronavirus. Regardless of which media outlet, news of the coronavirus outbreak has spread faster than the virus itself. Named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization in late January 2020, the disease is being considered an “emergency of international concern”. As it spreads across borders, warnings from federal and state agencies are showing up in my inbox with advice to plan for the “eventuality of community spread”.
While thinking about how I’d much rather spend my time planning how to spread community midwifery, I realized how the two – virus and midwifery - may impact each other. In a true epidemic/pandemic, we can expect medical facilities to be pushed past their capacities as they care for those stricken by the disease, especially those who need intensive care. Hospitals will become epicenters of virus habitat, their beds full, and their staff overworked. The already low resources of the maternity care units will be stretched even further making the hospital birth setting riskier and not just in terms of contagion.
It only makes sense for out-of-hospital birth to become the safer choice for the majority of people in a crisis like this.
Through MANA’s many phases, the power of the organization has always been and will always be grassroots. The need for that power to work “on the ground” with the midwives as we move into an uncertain future is obvious. Because what isn’t uncertain is that a thriving midwifery profession is essential to community health and that not only can midwives make a difference now, but may well be one of the most important elements to make a difference in the future. It’s going to take all of us to be ready.