Coronavirus impact: Bay Area moms, mothers-to-be, OB/GYN weigh-in on parenting in the age of COVID-19

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Bay Area moms, mothers-to-be share COVID-19 stresses
Bay Area moms, mother-to-be, and an OB/GYN discuss parenting and its stresses in the novel coronavirus era. Kate Larsen, a wife and mother herself, has the story.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The novel coronavirus pandemic is having an enormous impact on family life in the Bay Area and throughout the country.

So, ABC7 news reporter and mom, Kate Larsen, put a spotlight on the effects COVID-19 is having on parenting and pregnancy, by setting up a virtual town hall with eight mothers and moms-to-be, and a Zoom call with a well known San Francisco OB/GYN.

"Folks are really stressed to the max," said Vanessa Welstead, a San Francisco mother of three, and founder of the Main Street Mamas Facebook group. With schools closed, she said what many parents are experiencing: "I've really dropped the rock on home schooling, I use that term very intentionally."

"I would cry on the way to work just knowing what I was walking into," said Cassie Galura, an ICU nurse at UCSF.

Galura is 29 weeks pregnant with her fifth child and just went on maternity leave. "The stress of going into work, with everything that's going on, it was just an added layer of that."

RELATED: Coronavirus: Here's what pregnant women should know about the illness

Francie Webb is a doula in New York City, where some hospitals are not allowing a partner or support person, like herself, in Labor and Delivery. "Is the work that we do considered essential? And is it safe for us to go work with our clients?," she asked.

Maggie Hott and Jamie Schechter are both due in the next week or so.

Many patients are seeing their doctors via telehealth calls now, but Hott says when she does go to the office to see her doctor, extra precautions are being taken. "It kind of feels like she's in a whole hazmat suit," she said. "She's got her hair net on, and a face get up, which I appreciate because she's obviously trying to keep herself safe, which is really important because she has lots and lots of patients," Hott said.

Schechter says the unknown has been a major challenge, "I don't know what the next week will look like, daily I'm sort of checking. Is the hospital going to be overwhelmed? Is my husband going to be allowed to attend the birth," questioned Schechter.

San Francisco OB/GYN, Dr. Karen Callen, delivered three babies on Thursday. She has been practicing for 36 years and says a support person is essential.

RELATED: CDC warns to prepare for spread of coronavirus symptoms, cases

"It's not only critical for the woman, who desperately need that support, it's a very special an intimate time for a couple, but it's critical for us as providers to have that additional support and interaction in the labor suite," she said.

Dr. Callen is on staff at California Pacific Medical Center and UCSF, where one support person is still allowed in L&D. But, she says hospitals are still trying to establish protocol for babies born to a mother positive for COVID-19.

"This practice of separating babies from their moms for 14 days is one approach, we're not doing that at CPMC," said Callen, who added, "we want to work with people, at least I do, to make sure that the cure isn't worse than the disease," she said.

As a result of hospital restrictions, more families are considering home births.

"We've seen a 25% increase in birth tub rentals since this all began," said Alice Light, the executive director of Natural Resources, a birthing and parent center in San Francisco.

Casan O'Connell is 16 weeks pregnant and is worried about what hospitals will be dealing with in the summer and fall, as she gets closer to her due date. "We don't know in a month, or two months, or three, or when I deliver in five, is it going to be worse? That unknown is a very scary aspect of it, so we just hope that the shelter in place can help alleviate the spread," she said.

Still so many unknowns in the midst of a pandemic, but as new life enters the world, more answers and solutions will be revealed.