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Sharon Barber

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We are certainly facing many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed the way we deliver midwifery care. One of the biggest challenges is the way in which we provide care during pregnancy. We can no longer offer family-centred care where partners and spouses are welcome to attend clinic visits. Instead we ask women to come alone, to wear a mask, to sit in the parking lot while we conduct part of the visit virtually. Our in-clinic assessments are quick as we check bellies, listen to babies' heart beat and do a blood pressure test. All while wearing a mask of course! I miss the children, I miss the hugs, I miss sitting on the couch beside a woman getting to know her. I miss all the postpartum home visits and the baby cuddles.

Just yesterday a client commented that she didn't even really know what I looked like. This particular client had transferred late into care from Victoria and I had only seen her twice in clinic before attending her delivery. During her labour I moved down my mask while maintaining social distancing so this mom and her partner could actually see my face. I could see the big smile in her eyes and realized this was not a small thing and I wondered why this hadn't even occurred to me! I have learned it's possible to communicate a lot with your eyes!

Birth during COVID-19 also has presented some challenges as well as some unexpected benefits. Our maternity unit is quiet, there are no children or grandparents in the hallways, no flowers, no balloons. Our labouring moms and their partners must stay in their room, they are no longer free to wander the hallways, access the kitchens, or get warm blankets. There have been many tears shed during these times when extended families can no longer gather to welcome and support each other. I am so thankful families are able to connect through technology. I am so thankful our health authority recognizes the benefits of doula support and care during labour. I am so thankful for the unexpected benefits I have witnessed as moms and their partners get to spend so much uninterrupted time with their new baby. We have definitely seen breastfeeding go more smoothly and babies gaining more quickly! We continue to witness not only the birth of the baby but the birth of the mother and of the family unit and this is such a tremendous honour. I am humbled and honoured by the appreciation and gratitude expressed by our clients for the care we continue to provide. I think it's been really helpful for our moms to know we are there for them during this troubling time, that there is always a midwife on call just a phone call away.

I am so thankful for the nurses and physicians on maternity who continue to provide such amazing support to our clients and to each other. I feel so very supported by our local health care team. I'm humbled by the kindness and generosity I've witnessed. I would like to give a big shout out the UBC Midwifery students who drove out to Abbotsford to donate PPE equipment for our clinic—it actually brought tears to my eyes. I'm enjoying all the hearts in the windows and painted rocks that line the entrance to our hospital. I look forward to 7pm each day to hear to banging of the pots in support of healthcare workers. I am proud to be providing care to women and their families during this challenging time and I really believe that midwives make a difference!