An expecting mom anticipates the joy of her new baby in her arms while managing the anxiety of pregnancy and birth in the time of COVID-19.
It takes a village.
I’ve always heard that it takes a village to raise a child. From my own experience, I know that this is definitely true. During my first pregnancy, I woke up in the middle of the night wondering if I was ready to take on this huge new responsibility. During my second pregnancy, I nervously asked my husband if we were ready for two. There are still many days where I wonder if I’m doing this mothering thing right. But I can tell you there is one thing I know for certain: I am so glad I have a village.
When I interviewed my pregnant coworker Amber for our “Safe at Home” series, I had a lot of questions. For one, how is she handling the late stages of pregnancy during social distancing? She shared many of the same worries I had when pregnant. But she is also facing a whole new set of daunting anxieties resulting from COVID-19.
Amber has the unusual challenge of both being pregnant and serving as an Epidemiologist performing COVID-19 case investigations for the Public Health Department. Strictly following social distancing, she works from home. She spends the bulk of her days investigating the spread COVID-19 and taking actions to prevent further local transmission. This work is crucial to the wellbeing of Skagit. If anyone understands the importance of social distancing, it’s Amber! She sees how easily this virus can spread. So she and her husband are taking extra precautions to stay home and stay healthy.
Many people are worried about themselves and their loved ones getting sick from COVID-19. Amber also is concerned that her and her husband’s health could affect the birth experience of their child. She wondered out loud:
“If my husband shows any signs of infection when I go into labor, would he be able to be in the delivery room with me? What if I contract COVID-19? Would I be forced to isolate from my newly born child?”
NOTE: According to the World Health Organization, we don’t yet know if a sick mom can pass the virus to her unborn child or to the baby during delivery. Pregnant women who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who have coronavirus-like symptoms, should consult with their doctor. Together, they can make a birth and delivery plan to ensure safety for everyone. Medical professionals know the benefits of skin-to-skin between mothers and babies and encourage breastfeeding. Even moms diagnosed with COVID-19 or having symptoms can breastfeed and hold their baby if they practice good hygiene and wears a face mask.
The thought of being alone during labor is incredibly scary. Hospitals have a temporary restricted visitor policy. This policy allows one healthy labor companion in the delivery room of a healthy mom. It is heartbreaking to think that so many families are having to deal with these concerns, but this what is needed to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
So Amber’s mom won’t be able to visit her in the hospital. Family and friends won’t be able to drop to see her new baby once she comes home in order. They will need to keep everyone safe through social distancing. Thinking back to when I brought my own babies home from the hospital, it makes me sad to know Amber won’t have the same supports that eased me into motherhood—the village of family, friends, and community. Before COVID-19, I and other moms routinely took these supports for granted.
To deal with these added stressors, Amber tries to focus on the things she has control over. She joked that she was eating lots of healthy foods because she isn’t able to go buy all the treats she’s craving. When the weather allows, she likes to take long walks. At the same time, she’s a bit weirded out by how people cross the street when they see her. But Amber is grateful people are taking the Governor’s orders seriously.
Amber finds hope and comfort knowing she will soon have her baby in her arms. She tries to remember that “there’s always something to look forward to…for the rest of her life.” Even though things are crazy right now, “there’s guaranteed joy on the way.”
Are you a pregnant or new mom?
There are many new (and free!) support services available to you during this time! Websites like WhattoExpect.com have compiled fantastic resources to help pregnant and new moms navigate this difficult time. Some of my favorites include virtual doula and lactation services, online childbirth classes through Lamaze International, and meditation apps to be used during labor.
Get connected with your local village!
Skagit County’s Welcome Baby program is unable to meet new parents at the birth centers at this time, but they are hoping to connect with Skagit families in their third trimester or those who have recently delivered. Call or text 360.922.2644 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org For more information visit www.skagitwelcomebaby.com
Want other support services? Check out these March of Dimes resources below:
- Virtual Support for NICU Parents with NICU Family Support®
- Facebook Live Events with Maternal and Child Health Experts
- COVID-19 Updates for Moms and Families with the My NICU Baby® App
- Supportive Pregnancy Virtual Groups
- Mom and Baby COVID-19 Intervention and Support Fund
- Pregnant women and new mom blog at www.newsmomsneed.org
NOTE: Wonderful news! Since this interview, Amber and her husband Drew welcomed their baby daughter Isla to their family. They are all healthy and happy!