KC midwives in high demand amid hospital visitor restrictions

Posted at 7:02 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 20:06:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With more and more hospitals placing restrictions on visitors, some pregnant women are deciding to change the way they give birth.

Certified Professional Midwife Cheryl Gilman said she typically gets three inquiries about home births per week. In the past 24 hours, she's had eight consultations and has four more scheduled in the next day. Gilman said some women are worried about contracting COVID-19 in hospitals, and others are worried they won't be able to have their loved ones with them during labor and after.

"That's probably the biggest reason women are making the inquiry is they are not wanting to be separated from their partners, their support people or the baby," Gilman said.

Kansas City mother of four Katie Schmidt is expecting her fifth child. She has delivered every one of her children at Saint Luke's Hospital on the Country Club Plaza.

"We were fully planning on having a hospital birth on this one and the coronavirus hit," Schmidt said, "and there were just a lot of factors, a lot of rule changes."

Schmidt said one of the most important things to her was having both her husband and her doula while giving birth. When she found out that wouldn't be possible, she got in touch with Gilman to arrange a home birth.

Gilman said she and other midwives in the metro are seeing a significant increase in clients.

"I would say it's a little stressful for all of us, but we're trained in out-of-hospital births," Gilman said. "So we are prepared to offer our services for those women that are ready to make that leap."

Another expectant mother who decided to make the switch is Vinur Wells.

Wells planned on having her first baby at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Like Schmidt, restrictions on visitors made her worry she wouldn't get to have her full birth team with her.

"It was more important to me to have my husband and the support of the doulas, especially as a first-time parent," Wells said.

Schmidt and Wells said their decisions were not based on fear of coronavirus in hospitals, rather having their loved ones with them. Both women also said a home birth isn't for everyone, but it's something to consider.

"You just have to make the decision that's best for your family," Schmidt said.

Gilman said home births are typically best for women in good health who do not have high blood pressure issues or gestational diabetes. For women who are considering making the switch to home birth, she recommended doing so by 37 weeks. However, Gilman said some midwives in the metro will work with women at 39 weeks if they have already had children.