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Interest in home birth grows amid coronavirus pandemic

'Last week I did about 12 consults in one day. Usually, that's about how many we do in a month,' said Maura Winkler, a midwife with Fika Midwifery in Buffalo.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Maximilian and Almuth Merz, who both work in the medical field here in Buffalo, gave birth to their first child over the weekend.

Rather than having their son at the hospital, they opted for a home birth.

"You really have to discuss with your partner what are your goals when you go into a delivery and what kind of experience you want," Maximilian said.

Recently, the interest around that type of delivery appears to be growing.

Even looking at Google Trends, there was a spike in the search term "home birth" toward the end of March.

Maura Winkler, a midwife with Fika Midwifery in Buffalo, said they've seen an increase in inquiries as well.

"Last week I did about 12 consults in one day. Usually, that's about how many we do in a month, so it's significant," she said.

While not all of those people end up initiating care, Winkler said the spike is due largely to concerns over the coronavirus. 

Winkler explained that's mainly because of both the fear over contracting COVID-19 and restrictions to visitation in hospitals. 

According to the New York State Department of Health, "In order to limit the spread of infections, hospitals are limiting visitors. For people who come to the hospital to deliver a baby, you may have one support person with you. This support person can be your spouse, partner, doula, or any other person of your choosing. This person will be the only support person allowed to be present during your hospital care."

Winkler told 2 on Your Side, "Some of the people that have inquired are people that have been considering community birth all along, and this is the tipping point for them."

However, a community or home birth may not be the right fit for every expecting mother.

Winkler explained, "For one, women need to be healthy and low risk, and they need to have a certain mentality about birth because there are interventions and resources that are not available in the community birth setting." 

She added, "We can't take on women that have chronic medical problems or even people who were planning to have an epidural in labor because we're not able to provide those services." 

According to the New York State Department of Health, hospitals are safe for delivering your baby. The department's website explains in part, "In New York State, hospitals must designate separate space for labor and delivery, to keep patients healthy and safe. If you can, call your health care provider before going to the hospital. They will tell you if there are changes to admitting procedures due to COVID-19."

Nonetheless, new parents like the Merz's believe it's important to weigh your options to figure out what's best for your family. 

"We are really happy that we made the decision in the first place," Maximilian said.

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