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Toronto, Canada

312 Adelaide Street West, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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Pregnancy in a Pandemic (Part 1): Real Moms Share Their Stories

Written by Laura DaSilva

Pregnancy is full of question marks at the best of times. Now, parents have the added weight of the Covid-19 pandemic uncertainty on their shoulders. In our Pregnancy in a Pandemic series we ask new and expectant moms to share their honest thoughts, concerns and advice to help others get through these unprecedented times.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the first few weeks of being a new mom?

It’s been tough. It took my husband and I over four years to get pregnant and we ended up doing IVF. Our fertility journey was long and grueling, but worth every penny, needle, early morning and travel.

When I went into labour the virus hit our area.  I was in labour for 51 hours and they had to do an emergency c-section. By the time we got to leave the hospital, everyone was isolating and distancing. Our family is unable to visit us at home and hold our beautiful baby boy. I have never been so happy and so proud of anything in my life as I am about Dax and all of our loved ones are missing out on these amazing newborn moments that are going to pass us so quickly.

What has been the most challenging part?

I would say the most challenging part is feeling isolated and alone.

Dax is doing well, but what if something happens? The last place I want to go is the doctor’s office or hospital. I was also experiencing painful breastfeeding. Typically, I could just go into the breastfeeding clinic but they are not seeing anyone right now so I have to get advice over the phone.

My husband goes back to work Monday since he is an essential service. I am so worried that he might get the virus and bring it home. I don’t think it is worth the risk, but his work has great safety measures in place and he feels it is safe enough.

Any words of advice for other parents struggling through this uncertain time?

This won’t last forever. Enjoy the time you have with your family. Soak in every snuggle and enjoy the time you get to bond with your newborn. All of us new parents are struggling during these uncertain times, it is hard but our job is to keep our little ones safe and healthy.

How has the Covid-19 crisis affected your pregnancy?

My husband is no longer able to attend my midwife appointments with me. Rather than the routine 45-minute appointment, I now go in for a brief physical examination and then must do the rest of the appointment on the phone outside of the clinic.

I was going to regular acupuncture and massage appointments for back pain caused by pregnancy. I’m no longer able to go to those appointments, which has been making my pain a lot worse.

My baby shower was cancelled. Although many would just consider this just a party, it is something I have always looked forward to when thinking of my first pregnancy. I’m sad that I’ll miss out on things like this that most first time moms get to experience.

Our baby prep/childbirth classes are cancelled. This has left me feeling very lost, as it is my first pregnancy and I’m not familiar with any of the techniques to get myself through labour.

What are your biggest concerns?

One of my smaller concerns is that baby stores will close down completely before we can buy all of our baby gear.

One of my main concerns is hospitals starting to have more strict regulations and not letting my husband in the room with me as I labour, deliver, and recover. This has happened in Italy and New York, and I can’t imagine going through it all alone.

How will your birth plan be affected?

I was planning on hiring a doula to help me through birth, however, many hospitals in the area are no longer allowing doulas (or rather, they are making you choose between your spouse and a doula). So this may no longer be an option for me.

The hospital I am planning to deliver in is no longer offering certain pain medications (i.e. laughing gas) due to Covid-19 risks. I was planning on using these methods of pain management to see if I could go without an epidural.

Any advice for other pregnant moms having a hard time?

Try to find online support groups for other moms due in the same month as you. Having this resource has helped me so much.

We are strong and resilient women. Even with worries about what the hospital situation will be like when it’s time to deliver, we will make it through and be able to say on the other side “I was pregnant and gave birth during a pandemic and I came out stronger!”

How did the pandemic affect your birth experience?

The last month of this pregnancy was really challenging. My baby was breech at 36 weeks requiring two ECV procedures (a manual procedure to turn a breech fetus to a head-down position) at our local hospital. Thanks to the successful ECV, a home birth was on the table for me.

Thanks to the deep integration between my midwife team and everyone I came across at the hospital, I had complete confidence that they trusted each other and worked collaboratively.

And, finally, thanks to two amazing midwives, I was able to deliver safely at home, for a quick(ish), intense, hard but (relatively) anxiety-free labour.

The exceptional care we have access to in Toronto and Ontario astounds me. These health care heroes keep showing up in hospitals and in our homes to support and care and in doing so, show such strength and love. I couldn’t be more grateful to each and every one of the exceptional women who made this all possible for our family.

What has been the most challenging part?

Having our three-year-old home from preschool was never in the plans! Like so many parents are experiencing right now, keeping them busy and maintaining your own patience is hard. Plus the sleep deprivation of a newborn, postpartum hormones, and not being able to rely on help from family, it’s been a lot.

Any words of advice for other parents struggling through this uncertain time?

I was surprised at what a welcome reprieve it was to have a baby in the middle of all this. There’s no time or space to read every bit of Twitter speculation or keep up on every news development. You’re in your cocoon, trying to figure out this new human, and your new family. In a surprising way, it’s reduced my stress and worry about all the what-ifs because I’m so hyper-focused on our own little world.

A great resource from CAMH has helped me throughout this time. There’s stuff about how to talk to your kids about Covid-19 and how to manage your own stress and anxiety. Really useful.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your pregnancy?

The Covid-19 crisis has caused more anxiety and stress on my pregnancy this time. I feel scared and worried. It happened suddenly and I was not prepared for this. My parents had to cancel their flights due to the virus.

We are trying our best to stay at home to lower the risk. Still, I have to see my OB doctor and give birth soon at the hospital. Later on, if anything happens to the baby or me, we may have to go back to the hospital again. There is too much risk there nobody can control. I’m also worried about not being able to get formula or diapers when I need them later.

What precautions are you taking?

We are staying at home, ordering online deliveries, and wearing a mask if I have to go to clinics or the hospital.

Any advice for other parents struggling through this uncertain time?

Find a balance. I understand that pregnant moms want to prepare and manage the risks as far as they can, but too much information and negative news will not provide much benefit. The best things to do are relax, eat healthy and sleep well. Worrying over uncertain things and risk will only make us overwhelmed and stressed out, which is harmful for us and the babies.

How did the pandemic affect your birth?

After a long early labour stage at home, it suddenly became clear that it was time to rush to the hospital on the morning of March 18, the due date. Leaving our vehicle out front, we met our baby girl within 25 min of reaching the hospital!

Although we were prepared to stay for a night or two like we did when our son was born, under the circumstances, we opted to head home after only a couple of hours under the care of a midwife who visited the next day. A nurse called, “Thanks for stopping by!” on our way out.

How has the pandemic affected the first few weeks?

Since we’ve come home, the days go by both quickly and slowly with two little ones. We video chat with friends and family everyday, trying to stay connected, but it’s hard not knowing when they’ll be able meet our baby girl.

It’s also been challenging to keep our toddler engaged as his daycare and activities suddenly stopped during a time when he would’ve benefited from staying in his routine.

How are you staying positive?

We count our blessings daily that we are all home and healthy, recognizing that this is a wild world to welcome a child into right now and will be quite the story to tell one day.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.