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Homebirths in demand during pandemic



Rochester, New York — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginias parents, Naomi and Jared Sittig, are just some of the many who chose to have their daughter at home.

“The idea of having a baby where there is COVID running around is kind of intimidating. Of course, the staff does what they can to protect everyone from getting infected, but things happen sometimes,” Naomi said.

Naomi is a nurse, who wanted to be at home, surrounded by family and friends. Virginia was born in Jared’s parents’ living room, equipped with a birthing tub, waterproof liners to protect furniture, candles, and a fireplace.

“I really love being comfortable and I think to be able to give birth effectively, you need to be comfortable. That means being in a space you’re comfortable in and being with people you’re comfortable with,” Naomi said.

“It was intense for longer than I thought it would be. I thought it would be a slow build-up and a big finish,” Jared said. “It was a lot. She was pretty impressive.” He was the first to see his baby girl.

“I caught her when she came out. It was the first time holding my child and I was the first one to do it, which was really cool,” he said. “It made it a lot more natural to transition into being a dad.”

According to Brigitte Rhody-Harrison who was by their side as their midwife, the demand for homebirths has doubled since the pandemic began.

“Even medical professionals don’t want to be in the whole hospital situation with all the germs,” she said.

Homebirths make up a small percentage of births in New York: less than 2 percent.

Rhody-Harrison is one of the two out-of-hospital midwives in Monroe County. She’s getting dozens of inquiries but can only accommodate six mothers a month.

“We take care of women for 10 months. We’re kind of at their beck and call,” she said. “I would love to see more midwives come out of the hospital business because it’s booming.”

According to Rhody-Harrison, homebirths aren’t for everyone. Only low-risk pregnancies are approved. Generally, insurance providers partially cover a midwife’s fee.

Homebirths are safe and if something goes wrong, they can transport the family to the hospital, Rhody-Harrison said.

According to Naomi and Jared, they are eager to have another child soon, and, like their first, they want to be at home.