TRENTON, NJ - In an effort to assure expectant mothers that they won’t be left on their own during delivery, New Jersey’s Commissioner of Health, Judith Persichilli, has directed that while it is prudent for hospitals to implement visitor restrictions in the battle against COVID-19, “such limitations must take into consideration patient care and well-being.”

Therefore, Persichilli said in a memo dated March 29pdf, all hospitals are now required to allow one designated support person to be with the expectant mother throughout labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period. 

Persichilli went on to outline that only one individual may be designated as the support person for the duration of care, and that the person must be asymptomatic for COVID-19, including not having recently been suspected of having, or being recovered from, it. The support person is also subject to screening for symptoms of COVID-19, including having their temperature checked every 12 hours and being screened for potential exposures to individuals who have tested positive for the illness that has, as of Sunday, claimed more than 900 lives.

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Supportive of the new directive is Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), himself a new father, who said he will push forward on his efforts to codify the right of expectant mothers to have a support person through legislation.

“No woman should be forced to deliver alone,” Mukherji said, citing research that shows women with social support during childbirth tend to have shorter duration of labor, less pain, and a reduced need for medical intervention. “In addition to providing physical and emotional comfort during labor and postpartum, support persons also reduce maternal mortality rates and alleviate the burden on hospitals by alerting staff when the patient is unable to do so.”

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