17 Aug Midwifery Care as the Pandemic Wears On
Back in March, the pandemic dominated our newsfeeds and stressed us all in many ways. I wrote this post to update people on how my midwifery practice was meeting the needs of the moment. Then, reports called the pandemic “unprecedented,” altering our lives in previously unimaginable ways. Now, the pandemic continues to alter our lives, but the rhetoric surrounding it divides us. Anger and discontent now fill our newsfeeds and spill into our streets. My post from March feels a bit naive in hindsight, though my sentiments of care and concern for clients, staff, family, and community remain.
I hold appointments in person these days, for all my services (infant feeding support, midwifery care, and Arvigo® Therapy) in all my various locations (Oshkosh, Sheboygan, and Thiensville). Clients may schedule virtual visits for non-urgent needs or follow-ups, or for geography or scheduling needs.
Providing in-person visits, the hallmark of midwifery care, creates challenges with community spread of this coronavirus. All of my office locations house other care providers who are seeing patients with underlying health conditions. My post regarding my practice protocols during the pandemic published on March 18th. Hanna and I began wearing masks during client care at that time, prior to any government mandate. It was out of an abundance of caution, in order to keep my clients and ourselves as safe as possible, understanding that our commitment to continued client care exposed us to higher risk.
Will you indulge me in a vulnerable moment here?
My midwifery practice supports my son and me. In March, I had no health insurance, and couldn’t afford to purchase it. I felt afraid because my age and an autoimmune disorder I’ve been working to heal put me at increased risk for a severe infection should I get this virus. So, I got busy writing a will and updating my beneficiaries on my tiny pile of assets. I gave my kids the information they’d need should I be hospitalized and not be able to communicate with them. Medicaid came through so I would have health insurance. I did all of this because my intention is to continue to provide midwifery care during this crisis, fully understanding the risks to myself.
My own bout with something at the end of February caused me to cancel client care for a few days while I recuperated. And a potential exposure to COVID had me going batty quarantining alone in my apartment in March, again needing to cancel appointments. If I don’t work, I don’t eat.
If I passed this infection on to any family in my care, I would feel devastated. An extended illness for me would cause me to close my practice.
The following things are happening in other birth settings, BUT NOT IN MY CARE:
- Limits of support people for appointments (I encourage your family to attend your visits, as I always have)
- Limits of support people for labor and birth (Doulas provide critical professional support in birth, perhaps now more than ever. We welcome close extended family as your primary support)
- Separation of babies from mothers (We advocate for non-separation of mothers from babies, and promote breastfeeding as your baby’s first defense against any infection)
- Requiring laboring mothers to wear masks (We prioritize your comfort during labor and birth, and work to maximize bonding between parents and newborn)
So, I wear a mask during all client care episodes, as I have since March. I feel the mask affords me some small additional protection to continue to provide the kind of care you deserve during this tender time. I invite you to look past the divisive rhetoric and join me in this simple safety measure.