More and more expectant mothers in Mexico are avoiding giving birth in hospitals for fear of contracting COVID-19.

Juanita Zarate, a midwife of 45 years in the ethnic community of Zapotec in southern Mexico, said demand for midwives’ services has become more intense since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Mexico. This is because women nowadays would rather give birth in their homes than in hospitals, where exposure to the novel coronavirus poses risks both for them and their children.

“In these months, due to the coronavirus problem… there are more births in my home,” said Zarate.

Zarate said her usual rate of two to three scheduled births per month has significantly increased since the pandemic. With just a few days left before the end of April, she still has four deliveries scheduled for the rest of the month. She also has about half a dozen deliveries scheduled for May.

According to Zarate, there are several other expectant mothers who arrive in her home without prior appointment to seek her birthing services. In such cases, she cares for her customers in a humble office inside her home in the Union Hidalgo municipality, where she has established her career as a midwife.

Last Sunday, a woman named Marina came to Zarate’s home to seek her services. She was already on active labor at the time but she opted to go to Zarate’s home than to the hospital because she was worried she might catch the virus if she gives birth in a medical facility.

“With this disease, my baby could get sick,” said Marina. She said she was more confident giving birth with the help of Zarate than giving birth in the hospital because of the pandemic. “Giving birth with a midwife is more trustworthy… They pay more attention to you than in the hospital,” she said.

As of Wednesday, Mexico has already registered at least 9,500 cases of COVID-19. However, health officials believe that the actual number of infections in the country could already reach 55,000 if mass testing is done. Mexico has also registered at least 800 deaths from the coronavirus.  

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