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Pandemic Pregnancy: Five Women Tell Their Stories

Updated: Apr 16, 2021


 

“In my experience, when a woman wants to get pregnant, not even a pandemic will stand in her way.”


“Nancy,” a 39-year-old new mother


 

Despite the pandemic, life goes on—literally. Although research has consistently shown that pregnant women with Covid-19 are at a higher risk of hospitalization and severe disease then nonpregnant women of the same age, millions of women are still eager to embark on the path to motherhood, masks and all. This week, The Insider brings you candid interviews with five women who have been pregnant during the pandemic. Several are still pregnant, while others are new mothers. In order to encourage the greatest amount of candor, we have granted these women anonymity, using fictional names. We think you will find their honesty about how they decided whether to get pregnant during the pandemic, to whether they should get vaccinated while pregnant or breastfeeding, as compelling as we do.



 


"Vicki"


 

“I ended up needing a D&C and with Covid, that meant going in alone. Having to sit alone waiting to medically complete a natural miscarriage–especially for a wanted pregnancy–is not something I would wish on anyone.”


 

The Insider:

How old are you and your husband?


“Vicki”:

I’m 32 and my husband is 34.


The Insider:

What date did you find out you were pregnant?


“Vicki”:

Early October.


The Insider:

And how many weeks pregnant are you now?


“Vicki”:

32 weeks.


The Insider:

Had you planned on getting pregnant?


“Vicki”:

Yes, we had been trying for just about a year.


The Insider:

Do you live in a city or a rural area?


“Vicki”:

City.


The Insider:

And is the Covid rate bad there now?


“Vicki”:

It’s bad in my state and neighboring counties but doing much better locally.


The Insider:

How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?


“Vicki”:

This is my second pregnancy during the pandemic. The first ended in miscarriage. The first was right in March of last year; Covid was still too new to impact my thoughts regarding the pregnancy. This pregnancy, I was and am excited of course, but sad that it won’t be and hasn’t been the pregnancy experience I had hoped for.


My husband not being able to come to appointments with me, not being able to celebrate with my family in person, being extra cautious with my health.


The Insider:

How far along were you in your first pregnancy when you miscarried? What date was that on?


“Vicki”:

I was about 11 weeks. Found out in March 2020. Miscarried in May 2020

I found out on May 9th, the day before Mother’s Day last year.

The Insider:

I’m so sorry. In your first pregnancy, what was it like realizing that you were pregnant and Covid was getting worse? Were you very worried about your health?


“Vicki”:

Worried isn’t quite the right word. Cautious would fit best. In the beginning my husband was adamant about doing all the shopping and errands to reduce my possible exposure. I was only truly worried when our hospitals started reaching capacity. I wasn’t overly worried about needing the hospital for Covid reasons, but if I needed emergency help for anything else especially related to the pregnancy places were full.


The idea of not being able to access quick emergency care for me or my baby is terrifying.


The Insider:

I’m interested in what your ob/gyn was advising during your first pregnancy. Not as much was known about Covid. What was she telling you to do?


“Vicki”:

She advised the typical CDC guidelines at the time. Wash your hands, stay home as much as possible, wear a mask in public, don’t socialize. I know we talked briefly about the unknowns of Covid’s impact on developing fetuses. We just didn’t know.


We also talked about the overlap of Covid symptoms and pregnancy symptoms. Though that was more relevant in my current pregnancy. It’s a little nerve wracking to tweeze out what is normal pregnancy and what may be Covid.


The Insider:

It’s hard to ask you this, but when you miscarried, did you wonder whether it had anything to do with the pandemic?


“Vicki”:

I did not wonder that, honestly. I had been so isolated. I will say that I ended up needing a D&C and with Covid that meant going in alone. Having to sit alone waiting to medically complete a natural miscarriage– especially for a wanted pregnancy–is not something I would wish on anyone.


The Insider:

Yes, that sounds very, very difficult. I’m sorry.


They must have been taking a huge number of precautions in the hospital.


“Vicki”:

Yes and rightfully so.


The Insider:

Obviously, everyone was wearing a mask all of the time. Were you?


“Vicki”:

Yes,


The Insider:

Now, on to your current pregnancy! Are you still with the same ob/gyn?


“Vicki”:

Yes plus an expanded team. It’s a program my insurance calls “centering.”


The Insider:

What does that mean?


“Vicki”:

I have access and appointments with a team of four midwives led by an ob. It also includes Zoom sessions with seven other pregnant women who are due around the same time. This way I will definitely know the midwife helping with my delivery, in case my primary is unavailable.

The Insider:

Now that more is known about Covid, has your ob/gyn’s advice changed at all since your first pregnancy?


“Vicki”:

There has been more focus on the added risks. Pregnant women tend to get sicker than non-pregnant women. And many of the treatments for Covid are not approved for use during pregnancy.


The Insider:

Did your ob/gyn advise you to get vaccinated?


“Vicki”:

100% and as soon as I can. My ob is currently breastfeeding her little one and shared how confident she is in getting the vaccine for herself and to protect her daughter. One of the midwives is also expecting and she shared her initial vaccine concern but that she’s really glad she got it. I know the science is still new but my ob said the vaccine itself cannot cross the placenta barrier. So added protection for any possible negative vaccine effects.


I just got my first Moderna vaccine. My second one is on May 8th.


The Insider:

Did you have any side effects?


“Vicki”:

I barely had a sore arm


The Insider:

How have you felt as you’ve gotten more pregnant and the has pandemic continued?


“Vicki”:

I mostly just feel isolated. I’m blessed to have a job I can do from home. But I’m not socializing with people outside of my quarantine pod, not going out. Pregnancy can be lonely enough but not being able to meet with other expecting people is tough.


The Insider:

Have you been able to see your family during your current pregnancy? Parents? Siblings? In-laws?


“Vicki”:

Yes and no. My in-laws, no, as they are across the country. My mother yes, Only after her vaccine. My father, no, since he is very loose with his mask and social distancing. Same with my extended family; most of them have or have had Covid.


The Insider:

Do they currently have cover?

“Vicki”:

Several of my extended family members do. Aunts, uncles, and cousins.


The Insider:

People who live together, or people in different locations?


“Vicki”:

Both,


The Insider:

So of course you can’t see them.


“Vicki”:

You tell them that. Haha. They keep asking about when I’ll be hosting a baby shower.


The Insider:

Have they generally been less careful during the pandemic?


“Vicki”:

Yes and it’s frustrating.


The Insider:

They must understand that you need to be extra careful.


“Vicki”:

It’s funny--you would think that. But my cousin is due with her second a few weeks before me. And she doesn’t believe in Covid. The family has tried to persuade me that since she feels it’s safe, I should feel it’s safe too. Thankfully my pregnant cousin has not had Covid.

The Insider:

Wow!


Are any of your friends pregnant now? If so, are they ultra-careful too?


“Vicki”:

Yes. One friend is due this week and they’ve been just as cautious as me and my husband


The Insider:

Do you know anyone who has decided not to get pregnant now because of the pandemic?


“Vicki”:

I do not.


The Insider:

Last question: how do you expect your delivery to be different because of the pandemic?


“Vicki”:

Laboring in a mask just sounds awful; not looking forward to that. I’m only allowed one support person with me. My mom can’t be there. My mother-in-law can’t be there. We couldn’t hire a doula if we wanted. I can’t tour the location either. Which adds a slight anxiety of not knowing exactly where I’ll be delivering


The Insider:

Very complicated! I wish you all good luck! What is your due date?


“Vicki”:

June 3rd. We’re expecting a little boy 😊


The Insider:

Wonderful!!!!!


“Vicki”:

If we truly can get most people vaccinated by May I’ll be beyond thrilled!


 

"Susan"

 

“With my first pregnancy I was working outside of the house and going to night school to fulfill a dream. Enjoying date nights with my husband and seeing friends. Even traveling. For my pandemic pregnancy, I became a hermit.”


 

The Insider:

Congratulations on your new baby! When was he born?


“Susan”:

He was born on December 28th.


The Insider:

And how old is your older child?


“Susan”:

My daughter is nearly 22 months old now, so she was 18 months when my son was born.


The Insider:

When did you find out that you were pregnant with your son?


“Susan”:

I found out I was pregnant with my son in mid-April.


The Insider:

That was right at the beginning of the pandemic. Was your pregnancy a surprise or planned?


“Susan”:

The pregnancy was planned. We took into consideration the pandemic and as much of what we knew about it as possible before we started trying to get pregnant. We weighed our options. But my husband and I are in our mid 30s, and I have an autoimmune disease, so we decided that we didn’t want to put our family’s growth on hold during a time with so many unknowns, such as the length of the pandemic.


The Insider:

How old are you and your husband?


“Susan”:

I am 35 and my husband is 36.


The Insider:

Do you live in a rural or an urban area?


“Susan”:

Closer to urban. But I’d say suburban.


The Insider:

A red or a blue state?


“Susan”:

Blue.


The Insider:

A bad Covid situation there?


“Susan”:

My state is now the worst off. Just last week, five people in my and my husband’s social circle tested positive. Luckily everyone is doing ok.

The Insider:

Did you discuss the safety concerns regarding getting pregnant during the pandemic with your doctor beforehand? Did you read a lot about the pandemic?


“Susan”:

No. I did not discuss safety concerns with my doctor beforehand. I did have a telemedicine appointment with my gynecologist for a pregnancy-related concern, even before testing positive, and it became evident that even the medical community was having trouble figuring “this” out and how to handle the medical needs of their patients. We had the news on our TV 24/7 during the beginning of the pandemic and we were glued to it.


The Insider:

Were you working outside the home when you got pregnant?


“Susan”:

No. I’m a stay-at-home mom.

The Insider:

Did your life change dramatically because of safety concerns when you found out you were pregnant?


“Susan”:

For me, no. I didn’t leave the house much before the pandemic while caring for my daughter. But once the pandemic hit, I left the house even less and became overly anxious about safety when I did leave.


The Insider:

What did you go out for? Shopping? Visiting with people?


“Susan”:

Since March of 2020 I have left the house to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s appointments and to Target twice. As well as to visit my parents who are in our bubble. My children have only been to the doctor and my parents’ house.


The Insider:

What kind of lifestyle was your husband living during your pregnancy?


“Susan”:

His company had him working from home. He followed the same lifestyle that I did, only leaving for necessities. I forgot to mention that we also visited my brother-in-law and his wife when the weather was warm for a few distanced outdoor visits.


The Insider:

What advice did you ob/gyn give you about dealing with the pandemic?


“Susan”:

To wear a mask when in public and not to interact with people within six feet. To wash hands frequently and to not touch my face. Basically what was being recommended by the CDC.


The Insider:

What was this like for you? Was it a hard experience?


“Susan”:

It was stressful and anxiety-inducing. And then I started feeling trapped and frustrated after probably the first month.

The Insider:

Was that partly because you weren’t supposed to see people outside of your family?


“Susan”:

Yes definitely. A bigger frustration was seeing other people carrying on like normal. It felt like we were in school doing a group project and to pass you need 100% participation. My husband and I keep saying to this day that if only everyone had worn masks and laid low for the first two months, maybe we wouldn’t be dealing with this still today.


The Insider:

How would you compare the experience of your first pregnancy with your second one?


“Susan”:

Night and day. With my first pregnancy I was working outside of the house and going to night school to fulfill a dream. Enjoying date nights with my husband and seeing friends. Even traveling. For my pandemic pregnancy I became a hermit.


The Insider:

Did you ever have a Covid health scare during it?


“Susan”:

Not one based on a real risk encounter. But every sneeze or tickle made me think I had picked it up at my last doctor”s ‘appointment.


The Insider:

Tell me about the difference between the two deliveries. Was the second delivery greatly affected by pandemic precautions?


“Susan”:

For my second delivery, I was only allowed one support person–my husband. No one else was welcome to visit. With my first pregnancy, my husband was my only support person by choice. But my parents and in-laws were in the waiting room while I was delivering, and visiting with us and our newborn within an hour of delivering.


For my second delivery, I had to have a Covid test. That obviously didn’t happen in 2019. And I had to labor and recover with a mask on. I was able to take off my mask when laboring became intense and for pushing. After that they wanted my husband and I to wear our masks whenever the hospital staff was present. And again, no visitors.


The Insider:

Have you been vaccinated yet?


Susan:

I received my first vaccine a couple weeks ago. Need to go back for our second in a couple of weeks.


The Insider:

What is your lifestyle like now, in order to protect your son and your daughter?


Susan:

We are still living in our bomb shelter. Nothing has changed. My parents are our only people who we visit and provide childcare if my husband and I have an appointment where we can’t bring the children. They are fully vaccinated. Even so, we have asked them to remain very conservative too until my husband and I are both fully vaccinated. We haven’t yet determined how to bring our kids into public just yet and we probably won’t for quite a bit longer considering how badly our state is doing.


The Insider:

Are you breastfeeding now? Is that an issue?


Susan:

I am breastfeeding. I had a lot of anxiety getting vaccinated for that matter. Vaccination positively outweighed the unknowns. Breastfeeding has been smoothly running.


The Insider:

Have you talked with or heard about any other women who have decided NOT to get pregnant because of the pandemic?


“Susan”:

Yes. Or at least that was the plan at first, but after months of pandemic, she and her husband decided to start trying.


The Insider:

Is that a friend of yours?


“Susan”:

Yes


The Insider:

Based on your own experience, what would you advise women who are trying to decide whether to get pregnant during the pandemic? Do it? Wait?


“Susan”:

Oh goodness. Every experience is so personal. For us, the stars sort of aligned. My husband was working from home which was so so helpful in taking care of our oldest, while I was dealing with all the typical pregnancy challenges. We also thought the timing was pretty ok for us too since while pregnant you might miss out on some fun anyway. I would say getting pregnant during a pandemic isn’t all that bad if mom has the ability to stay out of harm’s way. However, if I were a woman working on the front line, or even if my husband were, I would discourage a pregnancy during a pandemic.


With every doctor’s appointment, I was asked beforehand if I had any of the Covid symptoms. I don’t know how care would have changed if I answered yes. I don’t doubt that I would be cared for, but I also don’t know if it would have been telemedicine care or what. Postpartum I had complications and also chills and night sweats (fairly typical postpartum but also Covid symptoms, which was worrisome since I had just spent 2 nights in a hospital). I had to get tested on my own before seeking help at my normal doctor’s office.


To put it simply- If you can wait. I’d say wait.



 

"Miriam"


 


“At first, we thought the pandemic would be over in a few months so we didn’t mind waiting. However, when we realized that Covid would change our lives for the foreseeable future, we decided that we couldn’t put our family on hold indefinitely and decided to go forward with our plans.”


 

The Insider:

How old are you and how old is your husband?


“Miriam”:

I’m 32 and my husband is 37.


The Insider:

Would you describe the location of your home as urban or rural?


“Miriam”:

It’s a mix of both because it has sections that feels very urban but also has many sections with single family homes and parks that give it a suburban feel.


The Insider:

Do you live in a red state or a blue state?


“Miriam”:

Blue State.


The Insider:

How would you describe the Covid conditions in your state now?


“Miriam”:

Improving but it is still a threat and it is still affecting day to day routines.


The Insider:

What date did you find out that you were pregnant?


“Miriam”:

It was on the night of Halloween, so October 31, 2020.


The Insider:

Did you take a test at home to determine that?


“Miriam”:

Yes, I took an at-home pregnancy test and my doctor confirmed the pregnancy about a week or two later.


The Insider:

Is this your first child?


“Miriam”:

It is.


The Insider:

Were you thinking seriously about having a baby before the beginning of the pandemic, or did the pandemic make you decide to move things up?


“Miriam”:

We were actually thinking of having a baby right before the pandemic hit and the pandemic made us postpone our plans. We planned on starting a family soon after our honeymoon (at the end of January 2020) but once the pandemic hit and we realized it was very serious, we decided to hold off on having a baby until things settled down. At first, we thought the pandemic would be over in a few months so we didn’t mind waiting. However, when we realized that Covid would change our lives for the foreseeable future, we decided that we couldn’t put our family on hold indefinitely and decided to go forward with our plans. It helped knowing that the vaccine was being released soon and we anticipated the pandemic getting better by the time I would give birth.


The Insider:

What’s your due date? How many weeks pregnant are you now?


“Miriam”:

I’m 28 weeks pregnant and my due date is July 6.


The Insider:

Are pregnant women eligible to be vaccinated in your state?


“Miriam":

Pregnant women are eligible to be vaccinated and many doctors are recommending it. There have been studies showing the benefits of the vaccine for pregnant women and their fetuses, so I am very confident I made the right decision to get vaccinated.


The Insider:

Did you have any negative reactions from the vaccines?


“Miriam”:

After both shots, my arm felt sore, but I felt no other side effects. I was expecting to at least feel feverish or lethargic, but I felt completely normal.


The Insider:

When your doctor determined that you were pregnant, did she ask you to take a Covid test?


“Miriam”:

She did not.


The Insider:

Are women being advised to terminate their pregnancies if they get Covid? Have you and your doctor discussed what would happen if you got Covid?


“Miriam”:

I haven’t discussed that with my doctor. I haven’t heard that women are being advised to terminate their pregnancy if they get Covid.


The Insider:

I bet you’ve done a lot of reading on this subject.


"Miriam"

Yes, both my husband and I did extensive reading on Covid and its effects on pregnant women. We wanted to make sure we were making a well-informed decision and that we wouldn’t be putting our baby in harm’s way.


The Insider:

Are you being told to take any special pandemic precautions during your pregnancy?

“Miriam”:

We’ve been very careful with regard to Covid since it started, so we have just continued to take the same precautions. We don’t meet with anyone, including family, indoors and are always masked. We do, however, go outside while masked. The doctors also have restrictions in their office where you are not allowed to bring anyone to your appointments. This, unfortunately, means that my husband has been unable to come with me to any of my sonograms.


The Insider:

Have you been told yet about Covid protections regarding giving birth?


“Miriam”:

I’ve asked my doctor and she said many hospitals are giving women private rooms during Covid, whereas before you had to pay separately for that. I’ve heard hospitals are also making women give birth while wearing a mask. Mt doctor said some of these regulations might change in a few months as more people get vaccinated.


The Insider:

Do you have friends who are also pregnant now?


“Miriam”:

No, but I have some friends who are actively trying to conceive and have friends who have very recently given birth (a few months ago).


The Insider:

Please tell me about your lifestyle now. Are you working?


“Miriam”:

I’m working remotely from home. Generally there are consecutive days that I don’t go outside unless I have doctor appointments or have some errands to run.


The Insider:

Do you get to see your family other than your husband?


“Miriam”:

Not as much, especially during the winter. We see them more often in the spring when we can meet up outdoors. We will see them more often now both my husband and I are fully vaccinated.


The Insider:

Has it been a hardship not to be able to be with your family during your pregnancy?


“Miriam”:

It’s difficult missing out on family events like birthday parties and holidays since my family holds them even during Covid.


The Insider:

Do you and your family have different attitudes about how to handle the pandemic?


“Miriam”:

Definitely. My husband and I are a lot more careful when it comes to Covid. My parents and grandfather all have had it so although they take some precautions they aren’t as careful. My siblings and their families don’t think of Covid as a big deal and have often reduced it to a political game so they are taking the least precautions. My siblings are Trump supporters and have unfortunately bought into his rhetoric on Covid.


The Insider:

Do your family members think you’re being overly careful during your pregnancy?


“Miriam”:

My parents have always been supportive of our precautions, but my siblings only became fairly supportive only after I became pregnant since they acknowledge I’m now in a higher risk group. One of my siblings is a nurse practitioner so she’s aware that I’m immunocompromised.


The Insider:

Just a few more questions, but one of them is a biggie. Overall, what is it like emotionally to be going through a pregnancy during the pandemic? Isolating? Gratifying? What you expected to be going through?


“Miriam”:

Being pregnant during Covid allowed me to work from home, which has been amazing. I don’t have to deal with a long commute to work and have more time to relax when I need to. At the same time it’s also kept me isolated from friends and family that would have made the experience more fun. I guess the pros of working from home have outweighed the cons of not being with family and friends because I’ve enjoyed my pregnancy so far. It also helps that I have a very close relationship with my husband so I don’t feel lonely.

 

"Debbie"


 


“We sanitized every single thing that came into our house, and we never brought in carry-out food or anything like that until the baby was born. In hindsight, we clearly went a little overboard!”


 

The Insider:

Congratulations on the birth of your baby! What was the birth date?


“Debbie”:

Thank you! September 16, 2020.


The Insider:

How old are you and your husband?


“Debbie”:

I am 38 and my husband is 37.


The Insider:

Would you describe where you live as urban or rural?


“Debbie”:

VERY rural.


The Insider:

Was this your first child?


“Debbie”:

No.


The Insider:

How much older is your oldest child?


“Debbie”:

Two years and nine months.

The Insider:

What date did you find out you were pregnant with your second?

“Debbie”:

Mid-January-ish


The Insider:

So it was before the pandemic began.


“Debbie”:

Yes.


The Insider:

And when it became obvious in early March that the pandemic was going to be serious, what did you think in regard to your pregnancy?


“Debbie”:

I was worried that catching it would harm the baby. But I never tested positive for Covid.


The Insider:

Did you immediately talk about it with your ob/gyn? What did he say to you?


“Debbie”:

I didn't because I'm a teacher and my school closed in March. This is not an exaggeration–from the moment my school closed until I had my baby, I only left the house to go to ob visits.


Because I was so secluded, I really was not too concerned about Covid for the majority of my pregnancy. However, I was supposed to return to school two weeks before the baby was due. At that point I had extensive conversations with my OB, and he excused me from work until I had the baby because of the risks.


The Insider:

Was your husband going out of the house during that time?


“Debbie”:

He was also able to work from home during that time. He went to grocery stores to do curbside pickup during that time, but that was about it. We sanitized every single thing that came into our house, and we never brought in carry-out food or anything like that until the baby was born. In hindsight, we clearly went a little overboard!


I should mention how invaluable my husband was during my whole pregnancy. He had a feeling that Covid was going to get really bad, so he went out and got groceries and other types of supplies ahead of everyone else. I really don’t know how I could have felt safe for me and the baby if he weren’t the one getting the groceries, quarantining our mail and our packages, and buying things to get ready for the baby.


The Insider:

That’s understandable! There’s still so much we don’t know about Covid.


“Debbie”:

I know! Even now I do a decontamination shower every day when I come home from work, just to be safe.


The Insider:

So you didn’t see people other than your husband your whole pregnancy?


“Debbie”:

We did one or two socially distanced walks with another couple in their kid, but that was about it.


The Insider:

So you never were able to see your family?


“Debbie”:

My in-laws came to stay with us two days before I was induced so they could get comfortable with watching our older kid. Other than that, no.


The Insider:

That separation must have been very difficult.


“Debbie”:

It was rough. I felt like I was having a secret pregnancy. I felt especially bad for my older kid because he didn't get to see his grandparents for almost a year. Both my parents and my in-laws were under strict instruction about how to quarantine before they came down. My in-laws stayed with us for the first week after the baby was born. Then they left and my parents came down for another week.


The Insider:

Are you fully vaccinated now?


Debbie:

Yes


The Insider:

How has that changed your lifestyle?


Debbie:

The most exciting way it has changed my lifestyle is that we can go visit our family again! We also got together at our house with another fully vaccinated couple and their kid, which was wonderful!


The Insider:

That is exciting! What precautions do you still take to make sure that your children are safe from Covid?


Debbie:

We only visit with fully vaccinated people. If we go into a store, I cover the baby and my older child wears a mask. My husband and I make sure to change our clothes and shower as soon as we get home if we were somewhere crowded or at work. We don't take our kids into stores or other places where we can't socially distance.


The Insider:

You are in a unique position, having had a recent non-pandemic pregnancy, and a pandemic one. How would you compare the two pregnancies?


“Debbie”:

They really were totally different. My husband came to every single visit with my first child. He was only able to come to the first visit with the pandemic baby because the visit was pre-pandemic. All subsequent visits limited me to just one person, and we didn't want to introduce any new potential sources of infection into our house to watch our older kid, so my husband stayed home with him instead of coming to the visits. There was also a whole lot of anxiety about going to the visits and sitting in the waiting room and thinking about what was going to happen when the time came to go to the hospital to have the baby.


Fortunately, he was born in September. At that time there was a real dip in Covid cases around here


The Insider:

Some women said they’ve felt very isolated during their pandemic pregnancies. Was that your feeling too?


“Debbie”:

Isolated isn't really the feeling. It was much more of me wanting to celebrate the pregnancy with friends and family and not being able to. I had bought a shirt to wear to school to announce my pregnancy but I never got to because our high school closed


The Insider:

What was it like to reemerge after such a sheltered experience?


“Debbie”:

It was very scary. I felt like I was doing something really wrong leaving the house. I wear two masks all the time still. For my first month back after maternity (in December) I kept my windows open to get better air circulation in my room. I spent the majority of my time telling kids to make sure their masks were over their noses and their mouths. I still don't take my mask off to eat or drink during the day or in my classroom, just to be safe, but I relaxed about the windows!


The Insider:

Please tell me a little about the birth itself. Was it different than your first birth because of the pandemic?


“Debbie”:

It was a little different. We had to wear masks, but I was allowed to take mine down when we were alone in the room. We were allowed to take our masks off to sleep once I was in the recovery room. The biggest difference was that my parents and my in-laws were not able to come to see their new grandkid in the hospital like they could the first time.


Once the baby was born, I was very concerned about the nurses treating him if their masks were not on properly. It just added a whole extra layer of anxiety on top of the anxiety of being a mom to a newborn


The Insider:

Where do you wear masks now?


I wear masks when I go to work, and my husband wears masks when he goes to the store. My older kid wears a mask only if we go out in public. We tried to get him to wear a mask when he returned to preschool, but none of the other kids do and it was impossible for them to enforce it.


The Insider:

During this whole period, have you ever had a Covid test or a Covid scare?


“Debbie”:

I am pretty sure that I had Covid in mid-February of last year, before we really knew what it was. My husband and I got very sick, as did like 65 percent of my school. I believe there was even a discussion about having to close the school for a little bit because there were so many kids out at that time. I tested negative for the flu twice and then recovered.


The Insider:

While you were pregnant?


“Debbie”:

Yes, it was very early pregnancy. At that point I was just worried about having a high fever while pregnant. The doctor reassured me that everything was okay. Once Covid became known to the public, there was not much he could tell me about it anyway


The Insider:

What did your doctor advise about breastfeeding during the pandemic?


“Debbie”:

I didn't specifically ask about breastfeeding during the pandemic. In the hospital they just promoted it so I figured there was no problem. I ran into a much bigger problem regarding breastfeeding and the vaccine. There is no concrete information about its safety, so I got a lot of it "should be safe" from the ob, the pediatrician, and even the nurse administering the shot.


The Insider:

Can babies get Covid?


“Debbie”:

It is very rare, but yes they can. When I was obsessively looking stuff up right before he was born, I found that babies have never been born with Covid, but it can be transmitted from the mom to the baby after birth.


 

"Nancy"


 


“Not being able to see friends, some family members, stuck at home with a toddler who couldn't go to playgrounds or see her friends. It was brutal.”


 

The Insider:

What date did you find out you were pregnant?


“Nancy”:

June 15, 2020.


The Insider:

That was just a few months after the beginning of the pandemic. Had you decided to get pregnant then?


“Nancy”:

I wanted to, but it was unplanned.


The Insider:

Were you worried about the pandemic when you found out that you were pregnant, or wasn’t that an issue?


“Nancy”:

I thought it would be a good time to be pregnant, since we were home and working remotely. I wasn't overly concerned about it.


The Insider:

Would you have normally been working full-time in an office?


“Nancy”:

I was already working from home. I'm an independent contractor. I work in international development.


The Insider:

Would your husband have been working in an office otherwise?


“Nancy”:

Yes.


The Insider:

Did you go to an obstetrician right away?


“Nancy”:

Yes. My longtime gynecologist and ob, who had followed my first pregnancy.


The Insider:

How old is your older child?


“Nancy”:

3 and a half years


The Insider:

Did he give you any advice regarding the pandemic?


“Nancy”:

He told me to be extremely careful, limit travel, wear masks and a face shield.

The Insider:

Did you follow that advice completely, or were there times where you did otherwise? And did he give your husband the same advice?


“Nancy”:

My husband and I were very careful and went into lockdown before it was even recommended because half my family is Italian and was already living the pandemic in February. That said, my family is based in Tuscany, which saw very few cases during the first wave, so I ended up traveling to Italy in August 2020 and staying for a month. It was a much-needed break from the madness in the States. He didn't interact with my husband, but yes he would have given him the same advice.


The Insider:

Were you concerned about traveling internationally?


“Nancy”:

Less so than traveling domestically. Also, flights were practically empty, and National Geographic came out with an article about how traveling in a plane with proper mask was actually safer than going to a grocery store. In any case, we wore N95s, face shields and were hyper-paranoid about sanitizing everything.


The Insider:

When did you wear a face shield?


“Nancy”:

On the transatlantic flights over the summer and in the airports. Airports felt less safe than the actual flight.


The Insider:

But not in the U.S.?


“Nancy”:

I rarely went out. We ordered our groceries by delivery during the really bad months

The Insider:

When your doctor said to be “extremely careful,’ was that adjusted towards pregnancy, or were the rules the same as for any cautious person? For example, he didn’t say ten feet instead of six feet?


“Nancy”:

Well, he gave the standard recommendations he had given to his own kids. But given how poorly Covid was being dealt with in the U.S,, most doctors were trying to convey the importance of masks, safety and social distancing.


And yes, he said given how little was known about Covid and pregnancy, and that what we did know was generally bad, I should be as cautious as possible.


The Insider:

Did you see your ob/gyn the standard number of times, or more often because it was the pandemic?

“Nancy”:

Standard for an ob practice. I ended up switching to the midwifery practice that delivered my baby later in the pregnancy, but I did all the standard ultrasounds and tests through my OB’s office.


The Insider:

Did you have an easy pregnancy, or were there other problems?


“Nancy”:

Very easy pregnancy without complications.

The Insider:

What made you switch midway to a midwife? Did it have anything to do with the pandemic.


“Nancy”:

I had considered a midwife with my first pregnancy, but given that it was the first, ended up going to hospital. But I don't trust the US healthcare system, particularly with regards to pregnancy and birth since it's so interventionist and driven by health insurance.

There were several reasons. First, my pregnancy, like my first one, was smooth and without complications, I was low risk. Second, I had a rapid first labor (I gave birth 11 minutes after arriving at the hospital with my first birth), so the likelihood that my second delivery would also be rapid was even higher. so I would either have to get to the hospital early (which would almost assuredly lead to some kind of intervention), or risk having the baby in the car.


The Insider:

11 minutes! That must be the world’s record!


“Nancy”:

Well, I labored at home and my contractions were very close together when we headed to hospital, partly because I was in denial about being in labor for most of it,


Another reason why I was even more weary of a hospital birth: the one where my old ob delivers, which caters to older mothers, has an absurdly high C-section rate


The Insider:

How old are you and your husband?


“Nancy”:

We're both 39.

The Insider:

Do you live in a city or in a rural area?


“Nancy”:

We live in a city.

The Insider:

Which month did you switch to the midwife?


“Nancy”:

I switched in November.


The Insider:

Which was the month of your pregnancy?


“Nancy”:

Seven months. But I had decided I would do a home birth from start. I just hadn't selected my midwifery practice yet and interviewed several. Did a lot of research beforehand.


The Insider:

Did you discuss the pandemic with her? Was her advice any different from the ob/gyn?


“Nancy”:

The midwives were even more cautious. I had to sign an agreement to go into quarantine for two weeks before birth and get Covid-tested two times and an antibody test.


The Insider:

Was there more than one midwife?


“Nancy”:

Yes, one primary midwife, and a second to handle baby. Standard of practice for midwives.


The Insider:

That’s very careful.


“Nancy”:

Had I tested positive for Covid, even if asymptomatic, they would have transferred my care to a hospital, again because of all the unknowns re Covid and pregnancy.


The Insider:

Do they make women who are giving birth in hospitals now do those things?


“Nancy”:

No, not that I know of. Midwives also had way more pre-natal and post-natal checks than the standard practice. And the checks lasted between one and two hours


The Insider:

Please explain what you mean by “checks.”


“Nancy”:

Checks mean visits, checking vitals, blood pressure, weight, fundal height, temperature, for any symptoms, etc.

The Insider:

Did the midwives take Covid tests before they came to your home?

“Nancy”:

Yes the midwives took regular tests and were fully vaccinated as soon as the vaccine was made available to them.


The Insider:

Were you vaccinated while you were pregnant?


“Nancy”:

I was not because the Covid vaccine was not available for pregnant women yet. It is now. Although, while I would jump at the chance to get vaccinated now while breast feeding, I wouldn't have gotten the vaccine until the third trimester because of the lack of studies or data on pregnant women.


The Insider:

So you are breastfeeding now?


“Nancy”:

Yes. And preliminary studies show that a vaccinated mother can pass those antibodies to her child thru breast milk, which would be the main draw.


The Insider:

Did you wear a mask during the birth itself? Did the midwives?


“Nancy”:

The midwives wore masks the whole time. I took my mask off during the really intense last 30 minutes because I needed to breathe deeply.


The Insider:

How long were you in labor this time?


“Nancy”:

Active labor (5cm dilated and onwards) was 3 hours, 19 minutes, Faster than my first birth, but the pushing was about 10 minutes


The Insider:

And what date did you give birth?


“Nancy”:

February 17th


The Insider:

Congratulations! Boy or a girl? Weight?


“Nancy”:

Thank you. Girl, 7 lbs. Born at 40 weeks. Two days shy of her due date. Another reason why I wanted a home birth. I didn't want to be pressured to induce of the baby went past due date


The Insider:

So basically, you had to be extra careful because of the pandemic, but you weren’t otherwise affected by it, right?


“Nancy”:

Oh, I wouldn't say that, no. I was very affected by the pandemic, particularly from an emotional standpoint. Not being able to see friends, some family members, stuck at home with a toddler who couldn't go to playgrounds or see her friends. It was brutal.


That said, we had it easier than most, and I had a smooth pregnancy. But it was really taxing emotionally.


The Insider:

Knowing what you know now, what would you advise other women about getting pregnant or giving birth during the pandemic?


“Nancy”:

Well, it depends on the individual circumstances, health, etc, But all things being equal, I would say that you shouldn't put pregnancy on hold due to the pandemic (certainly not if your biological clock is ticking), or if it feels right to you. I'm a big proponent of home birth if a woman is low risk (after all, pregnancy is not a disease), and I would avoid a hospital setting even without the pandemic, but more so now.


The Insider:

Have you ever heard a woman say she had decided NOT to get pregnant now because of the pandemic?


“Nancy”:

Yes, several. But I do believe there were other factors at play too. In my experience, when a woman wants to get pregnant, not even a pandemic will stand in her way


The Insider:

What were their concerns in regard to the pandemic?


“Nancy”:

Concerns about getting sick, but mainly about the very many unknowns. Pregnant women have been left out of all studies, at least until recently.


The Insider:

Have you ever heard of a woman terminating a pandemic pregnancy for those reasons?