“In no hospital in New York will a woman be forced to be alone when she gives birth,” says Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Not now, not ever.”
In response to two of New York City’s largest hospital systems, NewYork-Presbyterian and Mount Sinai, banning support people for women in labor during the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo announced an executive order mandating that hospitals allow partners in delivery rooms. According to the directive, mothers-to-be can have one support person—including a spouse, partner, family member or doula—with them throughout labor and delivery.
The announcement is a huge relief for expecting parents, doulas, and midwives. “This is a major victory for maternal health,” says Jesse Pournaras, the Brooklyn-based doula who created a petition urging Cuomo to safeguard the fundamental right of all laboring individuals that has received over 600,000 signatures. As Pournaras laid out in the call to action, a support person is essential to care for a patient during labor—and risk would increase substantially without one. Research shows that women who receive adequate social support during labor tend on average to have shorter labors, to control their pain better, and to have less need for medical intervention.