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Coronavirus In Minnesota: Local Birth Centers Seeing Rise In Interest

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- With the influx of COVID-19 patients at local hospitals, many pregnant women in Minnesota are looking for other options to give birth.

One local birth center is seeing a dramatic increase in inquiries from women who were planning on delivering at a hospital.

The Minnesota Birth Center's location in St. Paul is empty now, but that's all about to change, according to Katie Ireland, a certified nurse midwife at the center.

"So far our actual birth numbers haven't increased, but it's going to in the next, you know, two weeks to three months I think is when we are really going to see long, long shifts, many babies," Ireland said.

Just in the past couple of weeks, the center has seen a drastic increase in pregnant women hoping to transfer from a hospital birth to their facility, according to Pat Hinck, director of midwifery at the center.

"Everyone is unsure about how serious the COVID-19 is going to be here in Minnesota, and so I think they're seeking us to avoid hospital and being exposed to COVID-19," Hinck said.

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Normally, the Minnesota Birth Center gets about four to five calls a week with potential new clients. Currently, they are answering four to five calls a day.

Ireland says she noticed the influx right after COVID starting hitting local hospitals.

"I think doulas and childbirth educators were putting out immediately, like, 'Hey everyone, there's other options', and pregnant people all over the Twin Cities saw that," Ireland said.

Normally, the Minnesota Birth Center won't let woman transfer to give birth in their facility any later than 32 weeks. Now, under these circumstances, they've had women transfer as late as 38 weeks.

They have a pretty intense vetting process, and will only accept low-risk patients.

"If you had been planning a low-intervention birth without medications, you know, taking a lot of responsibility for your own education and health throughout your pregnancy, a birth center is a perfect option for you, regardless of where you had planned to give birth," Ireland said.

And they hope that woman who are using the center now come back next time they have a child.

"I'm hoping that people who didn't know about [us before] chose this, circumstances being what they are, and having a really good outcome and experience," Ireland said.

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