The deep loneliness of having a baby in a pandemic:
Hospitals on lockdown, quick discharges, no grandparents. This is what it’s like to have a new baby right now.
The new normal in hospitalsthe hospital was about to go on lockdown. That meant no one other than her husband was allowed to visit her or her new daughter—a blow to Despathy, whose mother had just landed in Atlanta from Minnesota to meet her grandchild.
CDC offers recommendationsWhile the exact implementation of these new guidelines can differ from hospital to hospital, the overall effect is that the atmosphere of labor and delivery floors has changed.Interactions with health care workers like this are frequent, and new parents often develop bonds with the nurses taking care of them and their babies as a result. “You get so close to these nurses—they help you so much,” says Kristin (who asked not to share her last name), who gave birth to her second daughter on March 18 in Chicago. “I’d been up the whole night before we were discharged, feeding my baby, and the nurse who had been helping me the most just looked at me as we were leaving and said ‘I want to give you a hug!’ And instantly I was like ‘No, don’t hug me!’ It was such a sad moment,” she says. Leaving the hospital was another strange, sobering moment. “It was like walking into a funeral with a newborn,” she says. “Everyone is so sad. Everyone tries to say, ‘Oh, she’s so cute,’ but the conversation turns to coronavirus concerns in two seconds. I feel like I’ve been robbed of the joy that comes with having a baby.”
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In addition to several health care professionals, I spoke with four newly postpartum women in reporting this piece. They were kind enough to share their perspectives on how taking home a new baby during a pandemic has been uniquely challenging for them and their families, from hospital visitor policies to social-distancing-induced isolation.) With so many color options hanging in your local nail salon, finding the most flattering shade to complement your deep skin tone can be a bit overwhelming. Each one described feelings of fear, anxiety, and loneliness—in some cases while holding back tears. 15, 2021. Here are their stories. NYC-based celebrity manicurist Kia Stewart suggests when searching for your shade, start by looking for a color that makes you happy. The new normal in hospitals At about 8 p. But Uni didn’t anticipate the massive theatrical shutdown.
m. Allow yourself to connect to the color that brings you the most happiness," she says. Pineda, 16, already is listed at 6-feet tall and 180 pounds. on March 11, after giving birth earlier that morning, Cheryl Despathy of Atlanta was moved to a recovery room. She had a fitful night of sleep, between her newborn needing to feed and the hospital check-ins from nurses and staff."Cool tones always should look for vibrant colors like pinks, yellows, and oranges to bring depth to their complexion," she explains. At 2 p." Here's a video of Pineda hitting and wearing A's gear last month.m.—orange's, red's, metallics, and nudes are always a go-to.
the next day, a nurse entered. “I remember thinking, ‘That’s strange, they were just here at noon,’” she says. View Gallery. He expected to sign with the. The nurse had news for her: Because of the coronavirus, the hospital was about to go on lockdown. That meant no one other than her husband was allowed to visit her or her new daughter—a blow to Despathy, whose mother had just landed in Atlanta from Minnesota to meet her grandchild. Just three hours later, the nurse returned, offering to discharge Despathy and her newborn early, not even 36 hours after her baby was born.
She accepted. “You could just kind of tell the staff seemed to feel stressed out, which made us feel more like we should go home,” she says. “When we left, they had a security person and a nurse at the door, blocking it off and turning away visitors unless you had a wristband [indicating you were a parent of a newborn]. We became really grateful to leave when we did,” she says. In the weeks since Despathy’s birth experience, hospitals across the country have adopted similarly cautious policies in an effort to protect laboring folks, health care providers, visitors, and new babies.
The CDC offers recommendations to inpatient obstetrics health care settings, which include isolating all pregnant people who have confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, limiting visitors, limiting points of entry into and out of the hospital, and isolating newborns born to moms with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. As an example of how these new recommendations play out in practice, Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University, describes the policies that Yale has implemented: “We have strict isolation rooms for women who have been exposed or are ill. We have had to cut down our support-person policy to one person, and you cannot rotate (i.
e., have your partner for a while, then your mom)—it needs to be one designated person to minimize traffic on the labor floor,” she says. Beyond that, most of the women I spoke with mentioned that their partners were screened before entry, meaning that hospital staff asked them about their symptoms and travel history and took their temperatures before allowing them in. While the exact implementation of these new guidelines can differ from hospital to hospital, the overall effect is that the atmosphere of labor and delivery floors has changed. Jenny Lentz, of Mount Kisco, New York, delivered her second child on March 16.
“It felt eerily quiet,” she says. Gone were the floorwide breastfeeding and discharge classes she remembered attending after having her older son. “I didn’t see one other patient when I was there. We could hear the babies, but that was it,” says Lentz. Her entire experience was marked by how lonely it felt.
“My husband had to go home to take care of our son, so it was just me and the baby. To not have somebody there—even just to hang out with!—was very, very strange,” she says. The isolation triggered an intense protective instinct over her newborn. “I didn’t want him to go anywhere. The doctors and nurses would come in and be like, ‘Can we take him to the nursery for this?’ And I’d say, ‘I’d rather the doctor come in here.
I’d rather you guys do the blood work in here.’” Advertisement Interactions with health care workers like this are frequent, and new parents often develop bonds with the nurses taking care of them and their babies as a result. “You get so close to these nurses—they help you so much,” says Kristin (who asked not to share her last name), who gave birth to her second daughter on March 18 in Chicago. “I’d been up the whole night before we were discharged, feeding my baby, and the nurse who had been helping me the most just looked at me as we were leaving and said ‘I want to give you a hug!’ And instantly I was like ‘No, don’t hug me!’ It was such a sad moment,” she says. Leaving the hospital was another strange, sobering moment.
“It was like walking into a funeral with a newborn,” she says. “Everyone is so sad. Everyone tries to say, ‘Oh, she’s so cute,’ but the conversation turns to coronavirus concerns in two seconds. I feel like I’ve been robbed of the joy that comes with having a baby.” Tending to a new baby at home while social distancing Unfortunately, that feeling of isolation doesn’t improve for new parents once they make it home and out of the foreboding hospital environment.
Instead of the usual cavalry of grandparents and friends dropping by with casseroles and hugs, new parents must decide if they feel comfortable having anyone in their homes, and there’s no road map for how to make those decisions. Not only are new parents concerned about their own health and their baby’s health, but they’re often worried that their recent hospital stay could put their parents in danger as well. And all of this is even more difficult for new parents without partners in the first place. Kristin and her husband had asked her parents, who live locally, to stay with their older child while their baby was being born, but what to do after they came home was a huge question mark. “I had a scheduled induction, and leading up to the day it just got worse and worse—my parents are over 70, my mom’s diabetic, and my dad has an autoimmune disease,” says Kristin.
“The day before we had a really intense conversation: Should they just leave after we get back from the hospital? It was absolute tears. The idea of my mom and dad not seeing my child after she was born was too much. We decided to have them stay at our house for a while,” she says. Despathy ended up asking her mom to self-quarantine for two weeks before meeting her daughter, even though her mom had already flown to Atlanta to help. “I’d hoped that my mom would be able to be available, just to have an extra person to like come over and be like, ‘Oh, you go nap, or take a shower!’ But we’re kind of all by ourselves.
My mother-in-law was hoping to visit next week, and we’ve asked her to stay away too. So it’s been a little much on us,” she says. “Everyone’s already feeling a little bit raw,” says Bettina Jendrik, who had her second child on March 19 in Annapolis, Maryland. “I found it’s been harder to recover physically this time, plus I’m trying to stay positive for my toddler, and I have the postpartum anxiety that everyone gets: Am I doing things right? Feeding is always difficult. On top of that, we’re trying to be there for our parents emotionally too—this is a huge source of anxiety for them.
I know it’s heartbreaking for them to not see our baby. Add in social isolation and the depression that comes from feeling isolated, and you feel very much on your own.” Advertisement Beyond family members and friends for support, new moms often need other kinds of help as well—like, say, a visit from a lactation consultant if nursing is difficult. Social distancing is making it much harder for them to access that kind of support too. “I only got one lactation consultation in the hospital since we were released early,” says Despathy.
“She showed me how to pump, but I never got to ask any of my follow-up questions.” Despathy’s hospital is launching virtual lactation sessions, which she is considering signing up for. “I have definitely been on the edge of opting into one of the videos. I guess with the flurry of all the things that you’re getting used to as a new mom, it’s lower on the list, but I know that I need to get all my questions answered,” she says. “I’m so grateful that this is my second baby,” says Kristin.
“I had tons of breastfeeding issues upfront with my first, and I would not have continued were it not for face-to-face lactation consultants.” But Kristin is missing their full-time nanny, who is no longer coming into their home. “I was so looking forward to having her support and help on my maternity leave,” she says. “Yes, I would have been home no matter what, but what is hard is all the extra stuff I’m taking on. We don’t order takeout—we’ve been making meals for four people.
There are all these little concerns. I should be focusing on my baby, but I can’t.” The risks of isolation and loneliness For many, the postpartum period is already a time when anxiety runs high, but the pandemic has heightened those feelings to an extreme, and potentially dangerous, degree. Newly postpartum folks are already at a particularly high risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues—and that certainly isn’t made any easier by a once-in-a-lifetime, world-disrupting pandemic. “Under typical circumstances, being a new mom can feel isolating—you’re tethered to the home more than you probably have been in your life.
Now, in many places, there’s a mandate to stay home. It’s isolation at a whole new level,” says Catherine Birndorf, M.D., the cofounder and medical director of The Motherhood Center of New York, a facility specializing in support services for new and expecting moms, including treatment of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, or PMADs, such as postpartum depression and anxiety. That isolation is bound to create anxiety, which may hit new moms even harder.
“You have to check in with yourself. Ask: How do I feel? Am I managing? Am I finding ways to connect with people? Am I taking care of myself and maintaining my emotional wellness? Where am I relative to where I was when I was feeling my best?” “We didn't have newborn-size diapers, and the stress of having to go to the store to find them was so hard,” says Despathy. “I wasn’t expecting how difficult it has been, not being able to leave and go get supplies, or even the freedom or flexibility to feel like, I’m going to go take a leisurely walk around Target.” Despathy says she also worries about her husband, a mechanic at a car dealership, who is still going into work. “I’m stressed about him going to work, but I think we are even more stressed out about him not going and the financial implication of having a newborn with potentially no pay.
” It’s easier than ever for worries to spiral out of control. “I have so many concerns,” says Kristin. “What is my life going to look like? Are my parents going to die? Honestly, the idea of having a newborn is the least of my worries.” Advertisement Dr. Birndorf says if you find you’re not doing well, can’t sleep, can’t “stop” your brain at night, are having frequent intrusive/upsetting thoughts, or if your partner or family members have noticed that you’re not yourself, it’s more important than ever to reach out for support.
(The Motherhood Center is now offering virtual services to those outside New York; online therapy platforms like .