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The silent benefits of COVID-19 through the eyes of an OB nurse

By: Michelle Cash, DNP, MSN, RN

COVID-19 has brought a halt to our normal routines. Vulnerable people are encouraged to stay home. Essential workers are required to report to work as usual. Elective surgeries and procedures came to a stop at most medical facilities to not only help prevent the spread but to conserve highly sought after personal protective equipment.

One thing that cannot be stopped or put on hold is childbirth. When it’s time, it’s time. We cannot tell a fetus, “Hang in there until this pandemic is over.”

Obstetrics (OB) units have had to make changes to their care delivery models. Visitation policies in most hospitals around the country were modified to prohibit visitors except for emergent or end-of-life situations. For the leaders of OB units, it was a question of how do we support this laboring mother and still promote a healthy bonding experience for the family.

My facility decided to follow the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses guidelines and only allow one support person for the duration of the labor/delivery and postpartum period. While this seems harsh and not “family friendly,” it turned out to lead to silent benefits of COVID-19.

As you can imagine, grandmothers especially were not happy with the idea of staying home while their grandchildren came into the world. But what came next was beautiful.

Mothers bonded skin to skin with their newborns while dad held them both close. Mothers no longer felt the need to hurry up and get their makeup on for all the visitors’ pictures. Mothers who chose to breastfeed could do so in peace without visitor interruptions. Mothers could heal, and dads could learn how to swaddle and change diapers without grandma telling him how he was doing it wrong.

Becoming a new family or adding to their existing family is hard enough without added pressures and opinions from family members. With the new policy, parents could be parents and enjoy their bundle of joy in peace, even if it was just for a day or two. Many couples expressed their gratitude and enjoyment of this time together. In “normal” circumstances, new parents would not usually feel comfortable asking friends and family not to visit for fear of offending someone. So you see why these benefits will remain silent. A silent joy in the midst of global uncertainty.

Michelle Cash is the RN-BSN Program Coordinator at King University, Bristol/Knoxville, Tennessee.

References

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. 2020. AWHONN COVID-19 practice guidance. awhonn.org/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/covid19-practice-guidance/

Centers for Disease Control. 2020. Personal protective equipment: Questions and answers. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirator-use-faq.html

Centers for Disease Control. 2020. People of any age with underlying medical conditions. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/groups-at-higher-risk.html

The views and opinions expressed by Perspectives contributors are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. These are opinion pieces and are not peer reviewed.

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Lynn Grommet
    June 29, 2020 10:29 am

    I agree with these new benefits. Our postpartum unit is the door to the OB-GYN unit and we serve as gate keeper to the many visitors we traditionally have on the unit. I must say it is a peaceful and quiet unit now. Pre-pandemic, we allowed siblings and visitors of all ages onto the PP unit. Many relatives would bring young children to see their new cousin or sibling with crowds in the room at times. I think it has been a benefit for the parents to bond with their newborn and then be able to give more attention to other children when they return home.

    Reply

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