Community Opinions

COMMENTARY: Giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic

Shelby Schipsi writes about her experience.

 Shelby Schipsi, wife of reporter Noe Magaña, was invited to write about her experience giving birth during the coronavirus outbreak. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

Giving birth can be one of the scariest things a woman goes through, and certainly it’s one of the biggest events in life. In the months leading up to the big day, women work their way through a long to-do list, such as installing the car seat and packing their hospital bags. 

Having a baby during the coronavirus pandemic can add stress to the situation. Not only are you bringing a newborn into this world when there is so much to fear, but you and your baby are forced to be exposed to others during the time of social distancing. 

I hope all of the expecting mothers know they have the strength and ability to get through it with the help of the amazing doctors and nurses at the Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital Women’s Center. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them and I will forever be grateful for their patience, comfort and professionalism. 

My March 23 due date quickly approached as I checked things off my list. However, a lot of my plans suddenly changed because of COVID-19. My husband and I had planned to have our two-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter stay with my in-laws while I was in the hospital. 

Once I started hearing more news about the virus and the shelter-in-place order, I grew more and more concerned for the safety of my family.

My husband’s parents are still working through all of this, so they are around other people every day. I was worried that they would be exposed to the virus, and leaving my kids with them for a couple days was no longer an option in my mind. This left only one alternative: my husband stayed at home with the kids while I went through the childbirth process by myself. 

Having suffered from severe anxiety throughout the last trimester of my pregnancy, this plan only increased it to new levels. I was scared and worried about how things would go and not having my husband’s support through it. But I kept in mind that this was the safest option for all of us. 

I didn’t sleep for over 48 hours while in the hospital, other than 10 minutes of closing my eyes here and there. Additionally, because of my fears I was hesitant to eat the food provided by the hospital because I didn’t want to eat food prepared by others despite the nurses’ reassurance that the staff was doing everything to maintain a clean, safe environment. They informed me that the cafeteria workers wore masks and gloves. One of the nurses even reheated my food for me. Because of my nerves, I didn’t have much of an appetite, but it was nice to know the staff was doing everything they could.

The anxiety and nausea continued after giving birth. My OB-GYN Dr. Ralph Armstrong and the nurses did everything they could to help me through it all and make me feel taken care of, even though I felt scared and alone. I tried not to ask for help, even when I was extremely tired or sore, because I didn’t want people coming in the room more than necessary. I was worried the baby and I could be exposed to the virus while at the hospital. 

I tried to think positively and remind myself that at least the Women’s Center is separate from the main hospital building and the emergency room. I must have washed my hands 100 times in my short stay at the hospital.

I want Dr. Armstrong and the nurses—Diane, Pam and Patty— to know how much their support and comfort means to expecting mothers, especially during these uncertain times.


Shelby Schipsi