Before having her first child, Melyssa Hudson was worried about what labour would feel like and how she would transition to motherhood.
Without those worries weighing her down the second time around, Hudson was more concerned about having no choice but to give birth at a hospital.
Then the pandemic struck.
“Now I was in a situation where, not only did I have to go to the hospital because there wasn’t any midwifery here, but now I have to go under these uncertain, ominous kind of circumstances,” she said. “That was quite stressful.”
Between March 1 and April 30, there were 15 babies born at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke. Across the entire Interior Health region, there were 963.
Like other areas of healthcare, pre-natal, birthing and post-natal care have changed due to the pandemic.
“The most important thing that we have tried to focus on is communicating and providing lots of avenues for communication,” said Dr. Vikki Haines, one of the obstetrical doctors at Selkirk Medical Group in Revelstoke.
Doctors and prenatal classes are available virtually, and the clinic has specific days set aside for in-person prenatal visits, so mothers-to-be don’t have to sit in the waiting room with other patients — although there aren’t many patients in the waiting rooms these days, added Haines.
“I think all of us are feeling, no matter what our situation is, pregnant or otherwise, that the unknown is the most anxiety provoking,” Haines said.
|Melyssa Hudson had baby Jonah on April 29. (Submitted)|
Hudson, her husband Daniel and her four-year-old daughter Bryn moved to Revelstoke in November 2019.
Baby Jonah came into the world on April 29.
Hudson said contractions woke her up early in the morning. She and her husband were at the hospital a couple of hours later, with their doula.
“One of the hardest parts about the pandemic has been the ongoing changes to guidelines as healthcare experts around the world try to decide what is best,” said Haines.
In the beginning, instructions stated no one could be in the birthing room with the mom, however, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada claimed otherwise on April 24.
“A support person for labour and childbirth is an integral part of birth experience,” stated the news release from the society. “More than just a supportive presence, they are an essential participant in the birth.
“The support person is not a visitor; their presence and their role is of greatest importance to the person in labour, but is also valued by the perinatal care team.”
In Revelstoke, patients are restricted from moving around the hospital during labour and meal trays are offered for both partner and mom. No visitors are allowed.
Hudson wanted to give birth vaginally, however, the labour stalled and she, on the advice of her doctor, decided to have a c-section.
She had never had a surgery before or spent much time in a hospital at all, so the layers of personal protection equipment didn’t seem out of place in the operating room, Hudson recalled.
She noted it was a little bit weird in recovery when every nurse and doctor was wearing masks every time they approached her.
“I sort of felt like, ‘I’m not sick everybody,’” she said. “But no, that’s just what they have to do.”
A few days later the Hudsons returned home, however, this time their family will not be flying in to support them. When Hudson’s daughter Bryn was born, family came in groups, with five days in between, said Hudson.
It was helpful because her baby was “purple-faced crying” for three hours every night, and with her sister there to hold the baby, Hudson could take a break.
“That was hard not to have this time around,” she said, though her husband is home from work for the summer.
And the community has been extremely supportive, despite the Hudsons only living in town for six months.
“There have been other things that have sort of risen to the occasion, okay, we are not alone, we are supported,” Hudson said. “We can weather this with an infant.”
|Victoria Haines is a doctor at the Selkirk Medical Clinic who delivers babies. (Submitted)|
Haines could not say if there have been any new mothers in Revelstoke who have tested positive for COVID-19.
She said if a mother was positive but had minor enough symptoms to quarantine at home, she would be allowed to go home with her baby, with instructions to wear a mask when near the infant or breastfeeding, to avoid touching faces and to wash her hands regularly.
“If a mom needs to be admitted to hospital because she is very sick then logically the baby would have to be cared for by someone that is not her,” Haines added.
Interior Health reports there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in children up to age 19.
Hudson is grateful for the maternity care team in Revelstoke as well as her doula who continually provided her with updates on whether or not there hospitalized cases of COVID-19 in the city as well as scientific studies and information that helped her stay grounded and calm.
“You are going to be safe during your birth here,” she said. “We are lucky to be here.”
Though Hudson claimed her doctors regularly told her whether or not there were COVID patients at the Revelstoke hospital, IH nor the provincial health officer are publicly identifying which communities have confirmed cases beyond those that have occurred in care homes and some other specific facilities.