Designated Support Person Access in Maternity

COVID-19

Last Updated: November 19, 2021

Giving birth during a pandemic can generate questions and concerns. We want you to know that Alberta Health Services (AHS) is committed to taking all necessary precautions for the safety and comfort of expectant individuals and their designated support person.

We strongly encourage everyone to get their COVID-19 immunization. Learn more about the importance of being immunized against COVID-19 during pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can be with me for appointments, delivery and during my stay in hospital?

A: One (1) designated support person may accompany you to obstetrical appointments that are at AHS sites if they are able to continuously mask and the clinic has enough room to physically distance from others, not from their immediate household.

One (1) designated support person can be with you throughout triage, labour, delivery and postpartum stay. We strongly encourage this person to be fully immunized for the safety of all needing care.

In the cases of adoption or surrogacy, if physical distancing permits, the infant shall also have one (1) designated support person. The expectant individual must notify the delivery site in advance of the delivery to advise them of the situation so they can prepare accordingly.

You must maintain the same designated support person throughout your stay. However, you may identify a replacement designated support person if your primary designated support person cannot fulfil their role. Please discuss with your care team if your designated support person is unable to fulfill their role.

Unfortunately, at this time there is no access for visitors. We recommend you maintain contact virtually.

Q: Who can be my designated support person?

A: A designated support person is an individual identified by you as a needed support throughout your pregnancy and who you want involved in your health matters (e.g., spouse, partner, family member, close friend, or doula).

We strongly recommend all designated support persons to be fully immunized to protect everyone at our healthcare sites. Designated support persons must be independent and willing to partner with the healthcare team to support you.

Your designated support person must not be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, awaiting test results for COVID-19 or be COVID-19 positive.

We recommend having an alternate designated support person who is fully immunized should your primary designated support person not be able to accompany you for any reason.

Q: What do designated support persons need to know?

A: Ensure that your designated support person brings everything you/they need for the duration of your stay. There will not be access to a kitchen so non-perishable snacks and drinks are encouraged.

Designated support persons need to be prepared that they may have to remain in the patient's room at all times. If they need to leave the room, check with the healthcare team first about re-entry requirements.

If your designated support person is not immunized and has been a close contact of someone with COVID-19, they will not be able to access the site unless they have completed a 14 day quarantine or a 10 day quarantine if partially immunized. If this is your situation we recommend having your alternate designated support person accompany you.

If your designated support person is a doula, they are privately hired by you; however, they are expected to be fully immunized prior to entering AHS sites.

A designated support person who becomes ill while with you will also be required to leave the site unless they need to seek medical attention.

Sites with outbreaks or on watch situations may require additional access restrictions for designated support persons. For the most current access requirements contact the site before arrival.

Q: What are the responsibilities of a designated support person?

A: First and foremost, the responsibility of a designated support person is to provide you with comfort and help you while also partnering with staff to deliver safe and high quality care.

All designated support persons must review and be familiar with the Knowing Your, Risks, Role and Responsibilities brochure prior entering any healthcare site.

To ensure we continue to uphold the highest health and safety standards in all our sites, designated support person must follow all direction provided by staff. This includes, but is not limited to, clearing the health screening, continuously masking, performing hand hygiene, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) as instructed by staff, and physically distancing from those not from their household. A designated support person is required to disclose to staff any and all symptoms at entry screening, and at any time, while inside an AHS site.

Failure to adhere to the direction of staff or to cooperate with staff will result in the designated support person being required to leave the site.

Q: What if I am symptomatic, a close contact, awaiting test results or screen positive for COVID-19?

A: All patients who are symptomatic, a close contact, awaiting test results or screen positive for COVID-19 should seek medical care and are welcome in all AHS sites. If this is your situation, please contact your physician and/or midwife and notify the site where you will be delivering so they can prepare to provide you with the most appropriate care.

Q: What if my designated support person is symptomatic, feeling unwell, awaiting test results or screens positive for COVID-19?

A: If your designated support person is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, they are required to isolate based on public health orders and will not be able to accompany you into healthcare sites. We recommend making arrangements to have an alternate designated support person who is fully immunized and meets the criteria of a designated support person accompany you instead. We also recommend contacting your physician and/or midwife and the delivering site to notify them of your circumstances so they can arrange the most appropriate care.

Q: What if my designated support person is a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case?

A: If your designated support person is a close contact of someone who is COVID-19 positive, their access into an AHS site is dependent on the following:

  • If they are fully immunized, they can access the site
  • If they are partially immunized they must complete a 10 day quarantine as required by AHS policy before they can enter the site
  • If they are unimmunized they must complete a 14 day quarantine as required by AHS policy before they can enter the site
  • If they have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and have competed the required isolation required by public health orders AND have fully recovered, they can enter the site

We recommend making arrangements to have an alternate designated support person who is fully immunized and meets the criteria for who can be a designated support person accompany you instead. We also recommend contacting your physician and/or midwife and the delivering site to notify them of your circumstances so they can arrange the most appropriate care.

Q: Can I request additional birth support?

A: In exceptional circumstances, and if requested by the patient, an additional birth support beyond your one (1) designated support person may be considered. These requests should be made well in advance to the site where you will be delivering. Additional birth support requests are not all approved and will be considered on a case-by-case basis by site leadership. Please note the decision to grant or deny additional birth support is not made by the staff in the service area.

Q: Can my designated support person be with me if I have a postpartum readmission?

A: Occasionally patients are readmitted after discharge. If this occurs, a designated support person who meets all eligible criteria may be with you. As well, your infant may stay with you when readmitted if it is determined to be safe for them to do so. If your infant does come with you, your designated support person must remain at the site at all times to care for the infant.

Q: What happens if my baby is admitted to the NICU?

A: In the event of NICU admission, two (2) consistent designated support persons can be with the infant at the same time, as long as both designated support persons are feeling well, not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, awaiting test results for COVID-19 or COVID-19 positive. For more information, speak with your healthcare provider.

Q: Can I bring my other children or siblings of my infant with me to appointments or to visit after I deliver in addition to my designated support person?

A: Children of yours and/or siblings of the infant are not able to be accommodated at the moment. You must arrange childcare for them while you are in hospital and prior to your appointments.

Q: Who can be with me for postpartum appointments?

A: One (1) designated support person may accompany you to postpartum appointments that are at AHS sites if they are able to continuously mask and the clinic has enough room to physically distance from others, not from their immediate household. Additionally, your infant can accompany both you and your designated support person.

However, additional children cannot accompany you and you must arrange childcare for them prior to your appointment.