Lisa DeBord felt blessed to have her husband with her the whole time during the delivery of her third child on April 3. The hard part came afterward when no one was allowed to visit.
“No one was allowed to visit me after my son was born, including my Mom or my other children. All doctors and nurses that entered the room wore masks, and we had to wear masks anytime we were outside of my room,” says DeBord, a mother to a newborn and Special Education teacher at Kings High School
Due to the spread of COVID19 and the rising concerns for public safety, hospital environments have become subject to a vast amount of changes. This not only impacts hospital employees, but also new or expecting mothers.
“There have been many changes. All staff have to wear a mask at all times and goggles when they are at the bedside. We maintain 6 feet from each other when possible. And try to limit prolonged time with the patients if they are stable enough to allow for that. Patient visitation is extremely limited,” says Ellen Anderson, an advanced practitioner nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
The new precautions have limited human interaction for many patients currently staying in hospitals. This includes the number of visitors, hours, and the state of the visitor’s health.
“Each patient has a list of two visitors. This list cannot change, it includes the parents, and the visitor must be at least 18, unless the parent is under 18. So if the patient has both parents involved, only the parents can visit,” says Anderson. For each day, only one visitor can be at the bedside at a time for the entire day. Each visitor is screened with a temperature check and questions about if other symptoms are present.”
These restrictions have affected new mothers. Before the Coronavirus, mothers had access to a network of people and places that provide support. However, with the growing number of COVID19 cases in the United States, motherhood has become isolated for many.
Debord has dealt with isolation throughout the pandemic. Not only at the hospitals, but also once she and her baby made it home.
“Typically during maternity leave, a mom will spend some time at home, but will also visit with friends and family for physical and emotional support, as well as have the opportunity to go out to eat, run small errands, go to a playground, just get out of the house. That has not been the case this time,” says DeBord. “The cold, rainy weather has been hard too because we cannot get outside as much to enjoy some much needed fresh air. This is my last child, and this experience has been ten times harder than my previous two, and the third is supposed to be the easiest.”
These lonely times for mothers can lead to postpartum depression, a condition in which women begin displaying symptoms of depression after giving birth.
“I have struggled with postpartum depression as well with this child. My therapy has been texting and talking on the phone with friends and family, working through struggles. A mom worries about everything, especially not understanding this virus,” says DeBord.
DeBord’s postpartum depression has led to anxiety surrounding the health of her new baby, and the rest of her family.
“Where can we go? What can we trust? We always have hand sanitizer and wipes on hand, along with masks. Do I have to wipe the whole house down? Why are those people not taking precautions? My mind is constantly wondering and worrying to keep my family safe and healthy,” says DeBord.
Anderson believes in the importance of following social distancing issues in order to make this pandemic easier on new mothers.
“From what I have learned from my pregnant coworkers is that their OBs are telling them to just practice social distancing like everyone else,” says Anderson.
Other than social distancing, DeBord feels new mothers deserve appreciation, and support.
“Anyone who is pregnant or having a baby during this time, it is more important now more than ever to check in on them and provide support however you can,” says DeBord.