A new baby is an adjustment under the best of circumstances, but during a pandemic there are many stresses that are of concern to a northern Ontario midwife.
Aimee Carbonneau is a midwife with K’Tigaaning Midwives Clinic on the Nipissing First Nation near North Bay, Ont.
Her clinic has seen a dramatic increase in women interested in accessing midwifery services rather than the prospect of delivering their babies at hospital because of worries over COVID-19.
It’s a trend that’s been reported in media from British Columbia, Alberta and up to and including Ontario.
Most pregnant women in smaller communities won’t have the option of a home or clinic birth with a midwife unless they’ve been working with one once since early pregnancy, due to demand for these services versus supply of midwives.
She says expectant moms have likely been diligent about isolating and have a low risk of coming in contact with the virus and more concerning, is the mental well-being of new moms, regardless of where they bringing their child into the world.
“Having a really strong support network – grandmas and aunties helping out, cooking meals, watching baby while you take a nap – especially in First Nations communities, we’ve always had that strong kinship circle,” Carbonneau says. “Right now, my fear is right now that’s really being curtailed.”
She worries that isolating will leave new moms isolated at a time when the baby blues, or worse but less common – post-partum depression – can creep in.
“I’m concerned for my clients’ well-being being home alone. Worried for their mental health.”
Midwives are there to help but others will need to rely on public health nurses and birtual support networks whenever possible.
Making a plan to stay connected to one’s support network is imperative for expectant and new moms, she says.