Expectant moms face increased stress during pandemic

LONG NECK — Samantha Jones is a planner.

The 26-year-old Long Neck resident makes lists. Every major choice in her life has been mapped out, organized and planned.

Four years ago, she and her husband Daniel, decided they wanted a baby. They came up with a financial plan to achieve their goal. They followed it through, and then finally she got pregnant.

The plan was flawless.

Then COVID-19 happened and her plan fell apart and her stress level rose.

“It’s been very stressful,” Mrs. Jones said. “I definitely feel like I’ve missed out on some things.”

Most of that has surrounded her loved ones.

“I haven’t been able to see my family,” she said. “I’m really close to my family. It’s upsetting not being able to see them.”

Mrs. Jones’ father works at a grocery store, which makes him potentially more exposed to the virus. Her family won’t be able to see the baby after she’s born. Because they are working out in the public they don’t have the opportunity to quarantine, Mrs. Jones said.

Samantha and Daniel Jones, of Long Neck, are eagerly awaiting the birth of their child. (Submitted photo)

To keep in touch, Ms. Jones FaceTimes with her family a couple times a week, but she said, “It’s not the same.”

“The family hasn’t gotten to see her kick,” she said. “You can’t get that closeness over a phone call.”

Mrs. Jones is 38 weeks pregnant and considered low-risk. Her visits are often done through telemedicine. When she does go to her doctor’s office, she checks in from the parking lot, is required to wear a face mask and the visits are much faster than before, she said.

She is very grateful that her husband has been able to go to every appointment. Others have not been so lucky.

“Normally the husband comes in during visits,” said Dr. Melisa Edler, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist with Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus in Milford. “They can listen to the heartbeat, ultrasounds. Now we can’t let visitors into ultrasounds or visits.”

Dr. Edler cautions that every hospital and practice is different in terms of their COVID-19 restrictions, but the goal is always to keep moms and babies safe.

Where pregnant mothers experience the most difference is with labor and delivery.

They can only have one person in the room when they deliver and that person has to stay the entire time. For some patients, that creates stress, Dr. Edler said.

“People who would have two family members at the delivery now have to choose,” she said. “I really sympathize with them,” she said.

Mrs. Jones has fears surrounding that.

“I am extremely nervous that my husband won’t be with me when I deliver,” she said.

“When we get to the hospital, they will check both of our temperatures and will give me a test for COVID. I’m worried that they could take the baby, if I test positive for COVID after I give birth. There’s also a chance my husband would test positive and then he wouldn’t be there with me.”

Mrs. Jones has researched her birth plan and found a site called Evidence-Based Birth. She plans to bring a copy of the research she found to the hospital with the hope that if she tests positive for COVID-19, the baby will be able to stay with her.

Dr. Edler recognizes the fear that moms-to-be are experiencing.

“Some patients are worried about going to the hospital in general,” she said. “I would hate for them to have a bad outcome because they were too worried to go to the hospital and waited too long.”

Much of that fear comes from the unknown.

“I have found no studies that show that if a woman gets corona(virus), she passes it on to her unborn baby,” Dr. Edler said.

“Pregnant women have the same risks as some who are not pregnant. We would recommend the same precautions as someone who is not pregnant, social distancing, hand hygiene.”

Some of the fear can be abated, although likely not eliminated, though perspective,

“Approach your delivery with an open mind. Even though you may not have the delivery you planned, we want you to have a delivery where you feel taken care of where you’re healthy and your baby’s healthy,” Dr. Edler said.

Mrs. Jones’ wish is that Evelyn Rose Jones would have come into a world without the worry of COVID. But after all her planning and hoping Mrs. Jones said she is just grateful she will be arriving soon.

“I don’t think I would have waited (had she known of the coming pandemic),” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to have our baby and that’s the most important thing.”