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story.lead_photo.caption (Democrat-Gazette photo illustration/Celia Storey)

Women who give birth at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences can now each have one visitor stay on the postpartum unit for two days, provided the visitor does not leave the hospital.

The hospital has adjusted its policy at least three times over the past two weeks "in preparation for the much-anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients in Arkansas," according to spokeswoman Leslie Taylor.

At the end of March, the policy allowed women giving birth to have their spouse or partner with them but no other visitors, according to an email from Taylor.

The hospital adjusted the guidelines Wednesday to allow women to each have one visitor with them during delivery but none after. Later the same day, officials amended the policy again to allow women giving birth to each have one visitor for up to 48 hours. The visitor can also be with the woman during delivery.

Visitors in the postpartum unit must wear masks at all times, and if they leave the unit, they can't go back in. They also have to have their temperatures taken every four hours to screen for the coronavirus.

Taylor cited instances across the country in which new parents and babies were exposed to covid-19, and she said the new measures are in place to prevent that. She added that policies may change again.

Other hospitals across the state, including the Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock, also have shifted policies to limit visits at labor and delivery units to prevent the spread of covid-19.

The Arkansas Department of Health published guidelines on covid-19 for pregnant women last week. The guidelines say pregnant women do not appear to be at increased risk of contracting the disease caused by the coronavirus, but that pregnancy affects the immune system and may put women at a higher risk for severe illness if they are infected.

"We realize that the birth of a baby is a wonderful time and we want our moms and their loved ones to have those memories," Taylor wrote. "We know that after the pandemic has passed we may look back on some of our decisions and regret them. What we don't want to have happen is look back and wish that we had made a decision that could have saved lives."

Metro on 04/09/2020

Print Headline: UAMS updates postpartum policy

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