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Birth During a Pandemic

We recognize that the COVID-19 health crisis is evolving quickly, and that hospitals are struggling to make accommodations that protect the health needs of the community while supporting the birthing needs of individuals. We also recognize that many decisions are being made at administrative levels to protect the interests of the hospital system, often without input from providers, patients, and support people. 

The result is a widening gap in maternal health care

But there are tools available, and actions that can be taken. The information on this page is intended to help families, in concert with care providers and other birth professionals, make informed decisions on birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding. Also included are tools for families with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. 

If you are in need of specific information, please do not hesitate to contact us directly at

Birth Rights Toolkit

Even in a pandemic, hospital policy cannot be at odds with your basic human rights. After all, hospital policies are written by administrators for the convenience and limited liability of the hospital, whereas your human rights are protected by law.  

For example, hospitals should not make COVID testing mandatory for asymptomatic patients. If your healthcare facility or provider is mandating testing, you have the right to informed choice. There are four goals in medical treatment: preventive, curative, management, and palliative -- if the testing will not meet one of these four goals (meaning if will not prevent a disease, cure a disease, manage a disease, or provide comfort from the disease) you should not need to submit to the testing.

[NOTE: Large-scale testing isn't fundamentally a bad idea! But you have a right to know what is being done as a result of that testing. If you and your partner will be separated, or your baby will be quarantined, you have the right to have that information in advance and make a decision that meets your family's needs and preferences.]

To support your rights as a birthing person, we have prepared a set of self-advocacy tools to use when working with your care provider (and particularly when preparing for a hospital birth).

Tools to share with your care team: 

  • statement from the Coalition for Ethical Maternity Care regarding birthing rights during a pandemic

  • UK guidance detailing what prenatal and postpartum care should look like during a pandemic

  • waiver form for refusing to separate a parent with COVID-19 from their baby (it serves as an informed consent/refusal form)

  • PDF: Breastfeeding and COVID-19 for health care workers

  • updated CDC guidance promoting healthy breastfeeding practices for those affected by COVID-19 [note: this is an update from their earlier guidance, which recommended separation]

Action Items

Hospitals are businesses, and as such are driven largely by customer satisfaction. They need to hear your voice and know your preferences! We highly encourage you to call the patient advocate at your chosen birthplace to state your care preferences, not only under COVID but at any time. 

DC Hospitals: 

MD Hospitals: 

VA Hospitals: 

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