CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Colby Cameron is like many expectant mothers right now. She is due in May and feeling anxious because of the coronavirus.
'"My husband, my mom, my aunt, and other people were present for the birth of my daughter and now (I) have to pick one person to be in the room with me,” Cameron said.
Cameron wants her support system with her when she gives birth.
“My husband is my soft comfort and my mom is my firm comfort,” Cameron said. “My aunt is my photographer.”
Cameron said she is now considering a home birth because she wants all her family there. She lives in York County, South Carolina, where a certified professional midwife, CPM, can assist in a home birth. Just across the border in North Carolina, the laws are very different.
North Carolina is one of a few states that prohibit CPM to assist a home birth. Instead, a midwife must also have a nursing degree, certified nurse midwife, CNM, and have written consent from a doctor. Hallie Lyon is a CNM with Atrium Health in Charlotte. She says doctors rarely approve home births.
“There are a few certified nurse midwives in the state of North Carolina that offer home births, but it is not as widely available so certified nurse midwives are going to be more in a hospital setting,” Lyon said.
The North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, NACPM, has issued a petition to Gov. Roy Cooper to allow CPM's to practice in North Carolina during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We recognize in North Carolina there is a need for home births,” North Carolina Chapter of NACPM member Meredith Silver said. “We have a qualified workforce that meets that need, and we are just held up right now.”
Silver said the governor has now handed the petition to the Midwifery Joint Committee of the North Carolina Board of Nursing. She expects them to discuss the topic next week.
“This is about moms, babies, and their right for home care,” Silver said.
Silver is among several people in North Carolina who support home births. Erin Pushman from Charlotte had her first child in the hospital and second two as home births.
“I think that we should have the right to birth the way that we feel safest,” Pushman said.
Pushman is now writing a book on the topic in hopes it will change laws in North Carolina and elsewhere. She says during a pandemic, it's particularly important home birth is an accessible option.
“When you are in your own home, your baby is only exposed to the germs in your own home and your own family,” Pushman said.
But there are some risks. Lyon says women should not have a home birth if they previously had a cesarean section, or are pregnant with multiples.
“You certainly have to pick the lowest risk women to even consider a home birth,” Lyon said.
Although Charlotte hospitals only allow pregnant women to have one person with them right now, Lyon said they encourage them to virtually invite others to support them during the process.
“I have had a couple of deliveries where the person had a doula with them virtually,” Lyon said. “They were on a laptop virtually.”
Atrium Health officials say they are also trying to keep birthing women isolated and away from any COVID-19 patients.
“When they come into the hospital, they have a separate maternity entrance that keeps them from going around other visitors,” Lyon said. “You are not going through the emergency room. They come directly up to the maternity floor, which is separate and a locked unit.”
Cameron said she plans to make a decision about her pregnancy in the coming weeks.
“We are trying to be as safe as we can, but at the same time, it is a bit scary right now,” Cameron said.
Home Births Amid Coronavirus
UPDATED 7:45 AM ET Apr. 20, 2020 PUBLISHED 6:30 AM EDT Apr. 20, 2020