Pregnant, Lexy Dolbec has two options in this era of global pandemic.
Give birth in a hospital with one guest of her choosing — the relative relief of an epidural at the ready.
Or give birth at home with as many guests as she chooses, a midwife attending — an epidural completely out of the question.
Dolbec chose the latter.
"It's definitely scary, but women have given birth for thousands of years without epidurals," said Dolbec, who chose home birth with a midwife so that her young daughter could attend, as well as her boyfriend.
"I think it will be okay until the moment he's emerging — it's the 'ring of fire' I'm worried about."
As hospitals in Colorado Springs and around the nation limit pregnant women to one guest during birth to limit the spread of coronavirus, more mothers-to-be are choosing home-birthing with a midwife over hospital births — even if that means sacrificing an epidural, an injection of a local anesthetic near spinal nerves in the lower back.
"We get a lot of phone calls, and this week has been no exception," said Tiffany Jorgenson, owner of Mountain Miracles Midwifery. "If anything, this week has been crazier."
Jorgenson, a midwife for nearly seven years, expected to book an entire month of clients in a week.
Christie Sheffer, owner of Blue Columbine Birth, said she's doubled her client load for the next month.
It's not the virus so much that's driving expectant moms away from hospital births, Sheffer posits, it's the newly placed limits on guests. Memorial Hospital, Penrose Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center in Colorado Springs have all established such rules.
The reason many of her new clients chose home birth is "not even so much fear of the virus, but more because they're only allowing husbands into delivery," she said. "Women who want to have a doula there, their mom there, aren't able to do that.
"I understand why hospitals are limiting, but I think that's what's driving away a lot of" pregnant women, she said.
Jorgenson said she "works really hard to explain the gravity of the situation" to potential clients, the risks and the benefits of home birth.
"This isn't something you just do," she explains.
And, there's the whole no-possibility-of-an-epidural thing. But, she said, "So far not one person has said, 'I'm not doing this.' They're saying, 'I'm staying home, making it happen.'"
As for Dolbec, she's apprehensive but determined.
"Now, it's a pride thing," she said. "I'm already committed and I've told everybody, 'This is what's happening.'
"I can't back out now."