Check out the summer issue of Practicing Anthropology to find out what researchers have learned about “The Impacts of Covid-19 on Birth Practices in the United States.” Coming on July 1, 2020.
The Impacts of Covid-19 on Birth Practices in the United States by Robbie Davis-Floyd, Kim Gutschow, and David A. Schwartz
How quickly and in what ways are United States maternity care practices changing due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Our survey data indicate that partners and doulas are being excluded from birthing rooms, and mothers are isolated, unsupported, and laboring alone. Providers face changing hospital protocols, lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and unclear guidelines for practice. In this rapid-response article, we investigate the quickly shifting protocols for in-hospital and out-of-hospital births and examine the decision making behind these changes. We ask whether COVID-19 will cause women, families, and providers to look at birthing in a different light and whether this offers a testing ground for future policy changes to generate effective maternity care in the face of pandemics and other types of disasters.
Key words: COVID-19, pregnancy, birth, maternity care, obstetricians, midwives, doulas, homebirth, freebirth
Robbie Davis-Floyd (email@example.com) is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin. She specializes in the study of transformational models of childbirth, midwifery, obstetrics, and reproduction, and is editor of the Routledge book series Social Science Perspectives on Childbirth and Reproduction. ORCID ID: 0000-0003-1963-6423. Contact her at: Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, WCP 4.102, 2201 Speedway Stop C3200, Austin TX 78712, United States.
Kim Gutschow, PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org) Lectures in the Departments of Anthropology and Religion at Williams College. She has researched and published on maternal and newborn health in India and the US, the intersection of reproduction and Buddhism, and the dynamics of irrigation & social power in the Himalayas. Her first book Being a Buddhist Nun (Harvard 2004) won the Sharon Stephens Prize from the AES, and she is currently editing a volume Sustainable Birth in Disruptive Times (Springer Press, forthcoming 2020) with Robbie Davis-Floyd and Betty-Anne Daviss, while finishing two other monographs Human Rights Failures: Maternal Mortality in India and the US, and The Buddha’s Mother’s Death: Maternal Mortality Then and Now. ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8568-2052
David A. Schwartz (email@example.com) is a Clinical Professor at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta with specializations in global maternal and infant health, emerging infections, and medical anthropology. He has studied the effects of HIV, Zika virus, Ebola virus, and COVID-19 on maternal and fetal outcomes and anthropological aspects of pregnancy, and is the Editor of the Springer book series Global Maternal and Child Health. ORCID: 0000-0002-7486-8545.