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Nova Scotia suspends home births during COVID-19 pandemic

Nova Scotia is suspending home births during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IWK and Nova Scotia Health Authority issued a joint statement Monday, which takes effect immediately and will last until at least Apr. 30.

"We appreciate how significant and special giving birth is for all women and their families and therefore we understand that changes to pregnancy and birth plans will be most unsettling," the statement said.

"The midwives will be reaching out to women who are planning a home birth to plan for delivery in a hospital with their midwife and to plan for prenatal and postpartum visits virtually or at a clinic location."

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The organizations said the decision supports measures being taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and is meant to protect midwives and birth attendants.

On Monday, the province announced five new cases of COVID-19, which brings the provincial total up to 127.

Justification not clear to midwives

CJ Blennerhassett, president of the Association of Nova Scotia Midwives, said she wasn't aware of any evidence to suggest that home births put patients or midwives at greater risk.

"We're just in communication right now with the IWK and NSHA to understand that position," Blennerhassett said.

She did not know how many families would be affected by the change. She estimated between six and 12 families in the Halifax area — which is one of three areas in Nova Scotia with access to midwifery care — were planning for supervised home deliveries in the next couple of months.

Blennerhassett said the suspension of home births would be a "huge, significant change" for those families, who have spent weeks or months creating birth plans.

"The IWK and NSHA have made these decisions with very much the best intentions, but families, I think, are going to find it hard to potentially change those plans last minute," she said.

The announcement comes less than a week after midwives reported seeing a spike in requests for information about delivering at home, because of COVID-19.

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