Mothers-to-be limited to one support person during labour, Alberta Health Services says

An entrance is blocked to the Peter Lougheed Centre hospital so staff can screen essential visitors who are the only visitors permitted in Alberta hospitals as part of COVID-19 precautions in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta Health Services says it's had to make a "difficult decision" regarding patients in its maternity units throughout the province because of the impact of COVID-19's fourth wave.

The agency says over the next four days, it will be implementing a strategy to limit patients in those areas to one designated support person while they are giving birth and during the remainder of their hospital stay.

AHS says the change is being made to "protect the health and safety" of patients and staff.

It also mentioned that the Delta variant, the strain of COVID-19 that is driving Alberta's spike in cases, poses a greater risk to pregnant individuals.

"We know it’s important for patients to have their loved ones present at this time, however, we recommend patients, family and friends stay connected virtually or by phone, whenever possible, rather than in-person," AHS said.

Designated support persons are individuals, 14 years old or older, who are identified by the patient as a "needed support."

It's recommended that they are fully-immunized against COVID-19 and must be physically and mentally able to assist the patient and staff with care.

Those individuals must also take care with their own health and never enter a health care facility with any COVID-19 symptoms, AHS says. They must also avoid entering a hospital when they are a close contact of a positive or possible case of COVID-19.

Under certain circumstances, two support persons will be allowed, but those will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Patients who wish to have two people with them in the maternity unit should speak with their health care team, AHS says.

To manage the escalating impact of COVID-19 at our hospitals, we’ve made the difficult decision to reduce access to one designated support person on-site with a patient in the maternity unit. This change is being implemented over the next four days throughout the province. 1/6

— Alberta Health Services (@AHS_media) September 30, 2021