How Is the Pandemic Changing Perinatal Health Care?
Action Steps for Supporting Maternity Care in a Crisis
- Adopt a midwifery-model mindset: Nurse-midwives are trained to stay calm in difficult births, create an action plan, and move through it with the person “always centered,” said Escobar.
- Treat listening and clear communication as vital clinical skills, as essential as doing an abdominal exam or listening to heart sounds.
- Listen to the client, especially when discussing sexual health history and gender-based violence.
- Find ways to communicate empathy and understanding, even through layers of personal protective equipment.
- Share information and partner with the patient throughout their care, especially in potentially traumatic childbirths.
How Can Family and Friends Offer Support in a Pandemic?
- Reserve judgement and honor the choices being made around childbirth and coronavirus precautions.
- Before visiting, ask about the family’s comfort level with in-person interactions, and again, avoid adding to guilt or shame about those precautions.
- Identify alternative ways to be helpful, such as sending takeout meals or taking care of yard work.
- Consider offering financial support if needed and requested.
- Check in if you have not heard from a new parent and ask if they need any support or reassurance.
- Extend compassion to new parents in the postpartum period. “We’re going through a collective grieving process in this pandemic,” said Escobar. “That loss and fear juxtaposed with the excitement, joy, and hardship of transition is a really intense nexus.”
How Can Communities Better Preserve Perinatal Health in a Crisis?
- Develop a trauma-informed approach to every level of health administration and public service, from intake to birth to discharge.
- Consider how to address the external factors that affect pregnant and birthing people and their families. “Pregnant people don’t exist in isolation,” said Escobar. “They have housing needs, they have food needs.”
- Have a nurse-midwife on maternal health leadership teams. “It improves outcomes, culture, and patient satisfaction everywhere,” said Escobar.
- Create policies that make perinatal care more holistically accessible. For Escobar, accessibility includes having a hospital to go to that offers safe, effective, unbiased, and respectful care.