HumanInsight Giving Birth in the Early Phases of the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Patient Experience
Matern Child Health J. 2022 Jul 27. doi: 10.1007/s10995-022-03495-2. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Obstetrical patients are at risk of complications from COVID-19 and face increased stress due to the pandemic and changes in hospital birth setting. The objective was to describe the perinatal care experiences of obstetrical patients who gave birth during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.
METHODS: A descriptive epidemiological survey was administered to consenting patients who gave birth at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) between March 16th and June 16th, 2020. The participants reported on prenatal, in-hospital, and postpartum care experiences. COVID-19 pandemic related household stress factors were investigated. Frequencies and percentages are presented for categorical variables and median and interquartile range (IQR) for continuous variables.
RESULTS: A total of 216 participants were included in the analyses. Median participants age was 33 years (IQR: 30-36). Collectively, 94 (43.5%) participants felt elevated stress for prenatal appointments and 105 (48.6%) for postpartum appointments because of COVID-19. There were 108 (50.0%) were scared to go to the hospital for delivery, 97 (44.9%) wore a mask during labour and 54 (25.0%) gave birth without a support person. During postpartum care, 125 (57.9%) had phone appointments (not offered prior to COVID-19), and 18 (8.3%) received no postpartum care at all.
CONCLUSION: COVID-19 pandemic and public health protocols created a stressful healthcare environment for the obstetrical population where many were fearful of accessing services, experienced changes to standard care, or no care at all. As the pandemic continues, careful attention should be given to the perinatal population to reduce stress and improve continuity of care.
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