Having a baby comes with its fair share of stresses. Now add in a global pandemic, and women in the pre-, peri-, or postnatal period have to also confront an entirely surreal and uncertain time during what is one of their biggest of life events.
New mom, Stephanie Richings, had a baby boy named Elliot in early April. The professional photographer took beautiful pictures of her newborn and describes the moment of feeling her heart explode when she saw her child for the first time.
“Everything that my body did and went through was worth it because I became a mother,” she said. “Just knowing that I grew this human and it is indescribable to explain the love I felt. It is just incredible.”
Stephanie like so many other moms this last year gave birth at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas-St. Elizabeth in Beaumont.
The Baby-Friendly hospital helped deliver 1,689 babies this last year. A Baby-Friendly hospital is a designation the team is very proud of and comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Of the 5,550 hospitals in the United States, only 428 are active Baby-Friendly hospitals or birth centers.
For Stephanie, she knew CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth would be her hospital because of the nurses and because of what she found online. It helped a great deal that she could scroll, interact, learn and feel less uncertain by watching a series of videos and learning from the place where she would actually end up giving birth.
“With COVID, classes for expectant moms were cancelled. My OBGYN suggested I go online and told me they would have videos for me and introduce me to the nurses the labor and delivery unit and explain to me what they do.”
Stephanie describes it as a comfort and a convenience.
“I could scroll back and look at a slide if I needed to,” she said. “The fact that they introduced me to each nurse and to understand their qualifications and the fact that they were lactation consultant specialists made me feel so much more comfortable.”
The site was created as a way to bring expectant and new parents from all over Southeast Texas together during the COVID 10 pandemic.
“We were limited with regard to face-to-face visits. As health professionals we want our families to have prenatal classes. They deserve post-natal groups. This online space was created to offer an opportunity for our patients to connect with us. To know that no one is alone. We’re here to take care of you and offer a supportive space,” said Amanda Goss, RN and Prenatal Educator.
A recent global study, published in PLOS One Journal found that of the almost 7,000 pregnant and postpartum women most reported being very worried about COVID-19. Many also described feeling loneliness, anxiety and depression and an elevation of post-traumatic stress. The authors described the most commonly reported worries among participants were related to:
- Pregnancy and delivery, including family being unable to visit after delivery (59%)
- Baby contracting COVID-19 (59%)
- Lack of a support person during delivery (55%)
- COVID-19 causing changes to the delivery plan (41%)
Studies like this one authored out of Harvard point to what has to be done to continue to help those CHRISTUS Southeast Texas serves.
“We must be at trusted beacon of truth for new parents. They have to understand they won’t do this alone and we are a safe place to receive care,” said Paul Guidroz, CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Chief Nursing Officer. “Maintaining expectational lifesaving services for pregnant women and newborns is paramount for us. Part of those lifesaving services we provide is educational and compassionate support. This will never stop. Not even under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.”