NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Pandemic pregnancy: The pressures of parenthood

Because there is still so much that we do not know about COVID-19, we are unsure of some of the effects that it can have on a developing child.

What we do know is that COVID-19 is uncommon in newborns born to mothers who had tested positive for COVID-19 during pregnancy, and while some newborns have tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after birth, it is unknown if they got the virus before, during, or after birth.

Pregnant women often bear the brunt of limited health resources, and past epidemics have shown that it makes pregnant women and babies that much more vulnerable. It is harder for women to access health-care facilities due to increased physical and financial barriers, as well as fear of contracting infection. Women who were unable to access family planning, were more likely to give birth at home — which is riskier for both mother and child.

One mother, Emerald Medina, who gave birth to her first child in August of 2020 shared her experience: “Having my daughter Phoenix during the midst of a pandemic was very bittersweet to say the least,” she said. “I was not able to do much while pregnant because that was when COVID-19 got out of control, but it was a blessing in disguise, as I was able to rest most of my pregnancy. I was laid off in March 2020 from my waitressing job and I was 3 months pregnant at the time. I barely went out during COVID and when I did, I was very cautious. Once it came time to go to the hospital and bring her into the world, it was nice to just have me and my boyfriend Travis there with no visitors interrupting. Having a baby was brand new and very stressful for both of us and it was calming knowing that nobody was going to pop in on us while we were adjusting in the hospital.”

Medina also shared the effects that having a child during a pandemic can have on one’s mental health.

“Phoenix is now almost 8 months old, and if I am being completely honest, raising a child during a pandemic is very isolating. I am now a stay-at-home mom and barely leave my house,” she said. “I was collecting unemployment until very recently which has made me start looking for a waitressing job at night, since Travis works first shift, and daycare is very expensive, plus, in the middle of a pandemic, I do not feel comfortable sending her off with people I do not know all day. Depression has been eating me alive because I am unable to take my daughter out to places because I am too worried about her or me getting sick. The same goes for my friends who have had their kids around the same time as me, everyone wants to get together with the babies, but everyone has that worry about the virus. Even though COVID has made things a lot harder and more stressful, having my daughter during a pandemic was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”