The Covid-19 health crisis has led to an exacerbation of mothers’ fears and anxieties about childbirth, according to a survey conducted by the Citizen’s Platform for a Respected Birth, published on Friday. Health protocols, fears of being separated from the co-parent … Bringing your pregnancy to term peacefully was not easy with the coronavirus.
With financial assistance from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, the platform conducted the online survey between June 4 and July 18. Responded 4,226 women over 18 who gave birth in Wallonia or Brussels between January 1, 2019 and July 18, 2021.
The goal was not only to give voice to women, little heard, but also to put their finger on the impact that the health crisis may have had on the experience of childbirth. It appears that the Covid-19 has exacerbated the fears and anxieties of mothers. Thus, 70% of women who gave birth before March 18, 2020 expressed fears, a proportion that rises to 87.6% for those who gave birth during the first confinement. The figures then come down gradually over the course of the epidemic (83% were afraid at the first deconfinement, 79% at the second confinement and 75% at the second deconfinement). Overall, 77.5% felt fearful about their childbirth.[display-posts orderby="rand"]
Several types of fears
Several types of fears were proposed in the questionnaire: having an episiotomy, not having the epidural, separation of the co-parent during childbirth … The women were also afraid of being separated from their offspring, in case of infection. at Covid-19. The possible obligation to wear a mask during childbirth worried mothers, who feared that they would not be able to breathe properly during the effort.
The health protocols announced by the maternity hospitals also worried mothers, especially fearing to be separated from their co-parent during childbirth. “However, in practice, this separation has been little practiced,” notes the platform. Women who gave birth at the start of the pandemic more often testified to a lack of support than others, some pointing to a lack of consistency in the rules with the father who could be present one day and was barred from entry the next.
A reduction in the time spent in the maternity ward
The Covid-19 also had the consequence of reducing the time spent in maternity. Mothers wanted to return home more often, fearing to be contaminated in a hospital environment, chilled by the atmosphere of hospitals or even finding it difficult to endure the separation of relatives, forbidden to visit the hospital.
The coronavirus has also had an impact on home visits, recommended after childbirth. If almost all the respondents to the survey benefited from it, the platform emphasizes that during the first confinement, only 6% of the women received a visit from ONE. The others turned to an independent midwife or other professional. However, the more precarious women – under-represented in the study sample – could have been more severely affected, they who turn more to ONE. “If they did not have the resources to call on other providers, it is possible that they simply did not have a home visit,” analyzes the platform.
If all the women had to undergo a Covid-19 test when they arrived at the hospital, the organization notes that the maternity health protocol has only been adapted to the negative result in 40% of cases. “Certain practices established for the first confinement have been maintained over time despite the evolution of knowledge, the availability of masks, PCR tests and vaccination”, regrets the study. In addition, 18 respondents explained that they had to perform a lung scan to detect Covid-19. However, performing this medical examination during pregnancy increases the risk of having breast cancer, alerts the platform.
The latter recommends taking better account, in the future, of the impact of the health crisis on women, by better communicating the protocols imposed. “We must pay attention to the psychological impact on mothers and the development of the child. In particular the fact that they experienced more fears, that they felt more isolated… ”, recommends the platform, advising in particular to set up discussion groups and training of health personnel.