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A labor and delivery experience during the COVID-19 pandemic

When Natalia Angulo-Hinkson learned she was pregnant, she and husband, Cameron, were overjoyed to embark on their journey to parenthood together. As she started her third trimester, like any mom-to-be, she eagerly asked friends and colleagues about their birth experiences to have a better idea of what her own might look like.

As she neared her late March due date, news of COVID-19 was everywhere and she started to realize that her birth experience may not be the way she imagined it.

“Through all of this uncertainty, I tried to remain calm, monitor the situation and discuss any questions or concerns with my OB,” said Natalia.

A week past her due date, Natalia’s OB scheduled her for an induction.

“Any apprehension I had went away once I was at the hospital under the team’s care. They were extremely professional, prepared and attentive to making my experience the best it could be during what is obviously a very unusual time,” she said.

Though COVID-19 has affected much of what is done at Texas Children’s, the labor and delivery unit at the Pavilion for Women continues to support families welcoming new babies every day.

“The deliveries are still coming and we are going the extra mile to help our patients make joyful, lifelong memories despite what’s going on outside the walls of their hospital rooms,” said Lynda Tyer-Viola, vice president of nursing at the Pavilion for Women. “These efforts combined with precautions and protocols established to minimize any potential exposure to COVID-19 are helping ease the anxiety of expectant mothers who are having babies during this historic and unprecedented time,” she continued.

To protect patients and families from the potential spread of COVID-19, members of the labor and delivery team wear masks in patient-facing settings, screen patients and visitors for symptoms of the disease, among other precautions.

“All of the changes we have made have been embraced by both patients and families and staff,” Tyer-Viola said. “Everyone has been extremely supportive and seems to understand that we are doing what is best for everyone involved.”

With a few tweaks to align with the new precautions, Natalia’s birth was everything she had hoped for. Her husband was able to be in the delivery room with her when their daughter, Isabel, was born and her labor and delivery nurses and support staff were cool, calm, reassuring, warm and friendly.

“The biggest challenge for me was to accept that my extended family was not able to be at the hospital during my delivery,” Natalia said. “I had planned for them to be in the lounge and for my mom to come into the delivery room if there were complications. Fortunately, there were not and my family is standing by to meet Isabel when it’s safe for all parties involved,” she said.

During this unique time in history, care teams and staff at the Pavilion for Women continue to be committed to providing the best care possible.

“Texas Children’s as a whole has weathered many storms and we’ve always ended up stronger and better than before and this pandemic will be no different,” said Tyer-Viola. “We are resilient and we are dedicated wholeheartedly to our mission of caring for children and women,” she continued.

Perhaps the most special part of her birth experience was a long-awaited announcement the couple will never forget.

“We didn’t find out the sex of our baby and it was the most incredible moment when Cameron announced to me that we had a daughter,” Natalia recalls with emotion.

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Natalia Angulo-Hinkson