Parents everywhere who are deemed essential employees—like nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers—are still going into work every day to do their jobs caring for sick patients as the coronavirus-infected numbers continue to rise. These people are putting themselves in direct line of contact with the coronavirus, on the front lines of fighting this pandemic.
Parents in medicine are sharing stories about self-isolating from their families, not having enough personal protective equipment, and for pregnant medical employees—they're talking about how the safety of their unborn babies is a top worry for them, not to mention their own health and what their birth might look like now in this new COVID-19 world. The sacrifices they're making absolutely qualify them for #herostatus in our books.
Yesterday, Dr. Kate Otto Chebly tweeted out a photo of her co-worker and herself suited up in their scrubs and face masks, cradling their bumps as they report for duty, in solidarity with the many other pregnant medical employees in the world.
She said, "A quick note to say: pregnant healthcare workers, we see you and we appreciate you! As a physician and mama navigating this new COVID era, it's been quite a week."
It sure has been. As we all try to navigate this new normal, Dr. Kate Otto Chebly shared how there's another level of fear and worry for pregnant medical staff members. She wrote about the "impossible decisions" pregnant healthcare workers are being asked to make in the middle of this pandemic, the "daunting" (and possible) scenario of giving birth alone and the "high stakes" associated with trying to strike a balance in this strange new COVID-19 world we're living in—what risks to take and which they're not comfortable with, based on their pregnancies.
Dr. Otto tweets:
"I've heard from so many pregnant HCWs across the country in the past week who are being asked to make impossible decisions right now.
"Do I keep working on the frontlines even without adequate PPE, enduring anxiety over the unknown consequences of my choice? Or do I step away from work entirely, feeling as though I've abandoned my colleagues and patients at a critical time (and being unpaid in the meantime)?
"Even for those able to arrange safer work conditions, many have partners who are HCWs exposed to COVID daily, and must now live separately from their loved one to optimize safety, at the expense of lacking essential prenatal social support.
"On top of this, many hospitals are now initiating no-visitor policies for prenatal care and even for women in labor. And while HCWs deeply understand these measures needed to stop the spread of COVID, giving birth alone feels like an impossibly daunting ask.
"Balancing mother/physician roles is a challenge at baseline: we are devoted to the beloved little human within us, and we are committed to our dear patients around us. How to ever get that balance just right?
"This is a universal working-parent dilemma, but in our bizarre new realities, finding the right balance feels even higher stakes."
We can't even imagine the heartache these parents are feeling right now as they sleep without their loved ones, as they worry about their health, as the pressure mounts for them to quickly and effectively care for their patients as hospitals fill up. The stress pregnant healthcare workers are feeling must be incredibly high.
We want to thank all of you for your service and sacrifice. Our hearts go out to each and every one of you in this uncertain and unsettling time. You are brave and incredibly selfless—and we see you, too.
And as Dr. Kate Otto Chebly says, "Keep making the decisions that are right for you and your family." Because that's all you can do right now, mama. There's no judgement here, only support.
Dr. Otto Chebly ends her Twitter thread with a pep talk we're sure all mama-healthcare workers can use right about now. "So for every mama-HCW navigating this new world: you are seen and appreciated. You are not alone. You are tough and you will persevere. Wishing you strength, health, and peace as we progress together!"
We wish you all the same. Including you, Dr. Kate!