Having a baby during a pandemic gave new moms and doctors challenges they’ve never dealt with before. Safety measures put in place left many feeling isolated and helpless.
10 Tampa Bay spoke to Nicole Arbiso last year. “A year later I would say things are a lot better.”
She went into labor in March just as restrictions were put in place. Her mom and sister flew into town to be in the room with Nicole and her husband Cory, but doctors said no. With strict coronavirus guidelines in place, Nicole and Cory brought their newborn home to quarantine. It was not the maternity leave Nicole imagined.
“I had so many things I planned on doing with my son while I was out on maternity leave,” Nicole said. “I’m an avid food and coffee lover, and I thought I would be taking him out and doing all these things I enjoy while he could still sleep in his stroller by my side.”
There were times when Nicole said she felt isolated. She was able to work through those feelings by getting outside for walks or by FacetTming family and friends.
“I, thankfully, didn’t have postpartum, but I see how the quarantine could be even more isolating for many,” Nicole said. “Having a baby can be isolating on its own. I think a lot of times moms feel isolated while having a lot of people around, adding a pandemic to it, with really no one around, makes it worse.”
OB/GYN, Dr. Allison Polender says 2020 brought more moms seeking help for postpartum depression.
“Everyone says it takes a village to raise a child but now there’s no village,” Dr. Polender said. “There are quite a few changes that have happened during coronavirus times that none of us have had to deal with before.”
Providing help or resources for moms having babies during the height of quarantine was hard to come by. The pandemic stripped away in-person resources many moms use, like lactation consultants and support groups.
“Another problem is that the hospital postpartum depression classes are not running right now. So, it’s really up to the obstetricians to help guide our patients to private counselors.”
Sadly, meeting with a private counselor isn’t often covered by insurance companies. If you have insurance, you may have coverage for 6 to 9 sessions under something called, The Employee Assistance Program.
Looking back, Nicole says quarantine gave her more time to spend with her family even after maternity leave was over.
“It was a blessing in disguise. I didn’t have to go out into the world and do anything, putting myself or my son at risk,” Nicole said.
Now, with a vaccine available, Dr. Polender says The Women’s Group recommends for their pregnant patients to get the vaccine. She says the earlier you get it in pregnancy, the more antibodies are passed along to the baby.
“The risk is still there especially for pregnant and postpartum patients who run the risk of getting complications from coronavirus,” Polender said.
With that in mind, hospital restrictions are still in place. Only one person is allowed in the hospital with the mother in labor. No other guests are allowed.
Dr. Polender says moms who are still feeling isolated should reach out to their doctor to see what type of counseling is available.
There are several free options in Tampa Bay. Moms worried about COVID-19 hospital restrictions might want to inquire about a birthing center. Many provide postpartum resources as well.