COVID-19 Update


At the Family Birthing Center at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, we recognize that birth is a unique and unforgettable experience, and our caring and dedicated team is here to support you as always.

Your safety is of paramount importance to us, so during these challenging times, we have implemented extra precautions to ensure our moms and babies stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

For the safety of our patients and our healthcare team, all patients, including laboring moms, are asked to remain masked during their stay in the hospital.

All Obstetric patients may have one designated birth support person, who may remain with them throughout delivery and the remainder of their postpartum stay.

Click here for additional information about Sentara’s response to COVID-19.


Last Reviewed 6/22/20

Last Updated 9/14/2020

Do I need to be screened for COVID-19 before I give birth?

Yes.  This is a new requirement for all areas of healthcare when people anticipate a hospital visit (ex. Elective surgeries, scheduled labor inductions, or cesarean births).  Your obstetrician or family physician will provide instructions for you to be screened prior to delivery.  If you show up without being pre-screened, you will be screened upon arrival to our unit.

I have written a very short “birth plan”, will that still be honored to the best extent of the given moment?  Such as: will my husband still be able to cut the cord? 

Yes!  We make every attempt to honor the mother’s birth plan.  Your partner may still cut the cord.  We always recommend the best birth plan is an open and honest conversation with your care team – and each time that care team needs to change (due to shift change, etc.)

Do you provide Nitrous Oxide as a form of pain relief? 

Under normal circumstances we do provide Nitrous Oxide as a means of coping with labor, however during this time, it is not being utilized due to the risk of the COVID-19 virus being aerosolized in the room.

Our guidelines are evolving continuously to best reflect CDC recommendations and best practices.

What is the average discharge time and how has COVID impacted the length of time that a family will stay if the delivery is considered “healthy” and there are no concerns? 

Our minimum hospital stay remains 24 hours.  The decision to lengthen that stay is based on the advice from both the obstetrician and the pediatrician.  If a mother is GBS +, it is recommended that the baby stays for 48 hours of monitoring to ensure no symptoms of infection emerge.

Are we still allowed at least one support person? 

All Obstetric patients may have one designated birth support person, who may remain with them throughout delivery and the remainder of their postpartum stay.

How far out does the hospital plan to have its current guidelines set in place? 

There is no set date to end its current guidelines at this time.  It would be best to plan for our current circumstances and be delightfully surprised if things are better by that time – which we all hope they will be!

Do I have to wear a mask during labor and pushing?

Yes, but only when the other caregivers are in the room.  Your support person will also need to wear one.  You might consider bringing your own cloth one that may be more comfortable.  If you are laboring by walking in the halls, your cloth masks will be required. If labor moves to the operating room, surgical masks will be required.  Every caregiver is also required to wear a mask throughout the day during their shift for your protection as well as their own.

Is there still valet parking available? Where do I enter and park?

Not at this time.  But we are happy to meet them in the parking lot with a wheelchair if needed after you park your car.  Just alert the nurse at the door when you drive past the main entrance that you would like some help.  You may park in the garage or in the front parking lot just outside the main entrance.  Labor and delivery is straight through the main lobby, and down the long hallway to the left.  Our unit is locked at all times.  All patients and visitors must check-in at the window to the unit upon arrival.

What paperwork do I need to bring with me?

Just bring your license and insurance card.  There is no way of pre-registering currently.  If mom is progressing quickly, paperwork would be completed after birth.

What should I bring with me for baby?

Outfit to go home in, car seat, hat, and blanket. We’ll provide everything else that they need here in the hospital.

What should I bring for me and my partner?

Partner: Change of clothes, toiletries, mints/gum, snacks

Mom: Comfy clothes to labor in, toiletries, chapstick, a nursing tank top/bra, change of clothes, glasses/contacts, chargers for any devices you bring

Optional: robe, pillow (with a unique pillowcase on it), snacks, hairdryer, music/speaker (there is free wifi), socks or slippers

Are the lactation consultants still seeing patients?

Our lactation consultants are seeing inpatients in the hospital every day. We welcome calls from outpatients at 434-654-8440. We are not currently seeing families for our in-person outpatient lactation consultant visits.

Please join the private Facebook group Sentara Martha Jefferson Motherhood for links to all the support groups.  Or email to be added to the e-mail list for updates.

How are they screening for COVID-19?

At each entrance, nurses are screening by asking a few questions and taking a very rapid temperature.

Are the Nourishment Kitchens on Labor and Delivery and Postpartum units still available to patients and support persons?

Yes.  Please maintain proper hand hygiene when accessing items from the kitchen, as these items are available to all of our patients

Can I still labor in the water?

Yes!  Our Jacuzzi tubs remain available in each labor room and are carefully cleaned between patients, as always.

How is the nursery being used at this time, since placing multiple people together creates more risk? 

Most of the routine care (weight checks, baths, and vaccines) for the infant is provided in the mother’s postpartum room.  If a procedure (like circumcision) needs to be performed in the nursery, precautions are taken to decrease any potential risk of transmission.

What if a pregnant mother tests positive for COVID-19?

Behind their masks and other protective equipment, our caring team members are here to support all our moms through their birth and bonding experience, regardless of their COVID19 status.

If a pregnant patient is suspected or confirmed to have a positive COVID-19 test, clear protocols are being followed to ensure that she and baby receive the safest care possible while protecting the caregivers that are helping her, as well as other patients.  Certain rooms on our unit are intended only for these positive patients.  At this time, if the mother tests positive and is in stable health, a modified isolation approach would be followed.   This would allow the baby to stay in the room, asking the mother to wear a mask and practice proper hand hygiene in order to reduce the risk of transmission to the infant but also support healthy bonding and breastfeeding.  Her support person is allowed to stay, practicing masking and hand hygiene as well.

Next Steps…

We will make adjustments to our policies as needed as the situation evolves.

Thank you for choosing Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital to support and care for you through your birth experience.