ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — As the COVID-19 pandemic batters hospitals across the country, many soon-to-be mothers are weighing their childbirth options.
Recently, there's been an increase in demand for midwives who can deliver babies at home or in facilities that are not part of the traditional health care system.
At 37 weeks pregnant, soon-to-be mom Maria is getting anxious and excited for the arrival of her baby boy.
"I’ve been very lucky because it’s been a low-risk pregnancy," she said.
It's her first child, and, much like anything new, you can never really know what to expect.
"Do they need to take them away to test them? Would they? What if I’m sick? What if he’s sick," she questioned.
Maria planned to give birth at Mission Hospital in Asheville, but soon realized it didn't feel like the best option for her anymore.
"I’d say around 34-35 weeks we kind of started realizing how real this stuff was," she added.
So, she began weighing her options -- either give birth at home or at a facility like the WNC Birth Center.
"It was hard to find that at first," Maria said.
Because many other soon-to-be moms are having similar thoughts.
"This is not unique to our area or even to our state. Women are making this choice more and more all over the nation," said Nancy Koerber, executive director at the WNC Birth Center. "They shouldn't be switching just out of fear of COVID, but they have to be really committed to wanting a different type of approach than they were preparing for earlier."
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Switching to the WNC Birth Center was the only option Maria could find this late in her pregnancy that wasn't a hospital.
The facility has three birth rooms, and the staff consists of four nurse midwives and four nurses.
However, many others aren't as lucky Maria.
"There were a number of women that weren’t able to find an option and were seriously considering birthing unassisted," Koerber said.
It's not the idea of giving birth in a hospital that scares soon-to-be moms like Maria. It's giving birth in a place with COVID-19 and not having loved ones by her side that's more than terrifying than anything.
"I understand that there are a lot of people that don’t have that luxury, and I consider myself very fortunate, because it wouldn’t necessarily go this smoothly for someone else. So, I’m definitely counting my blessings," Maria said.
Right now, the WNC Birth Center is allowing mothers to have two guests with them.
Maria plans to bring her co-parent and her doula, Mallory Josh.
If you'd like to get in touch with the WNC Birth Center, go here.
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