Table 2

Effect of pandemic on parents and their babies

ThemeExemplar quotes
ParentsHealthcare providers
Care partner not allowed during appointments or birthI also felt a bit sad that my husband couldn't be there for any of the appointments. That he couldn't see any of the ultrasounds and do anything like that. I didn't feel like he was as connected to this baby at the beginning (Parent group 1)If the mum was in the unit it meant the dad couldn't be in the unit, and the mums felt and expressed a lot of guilt about wanting to work on breastfeeding but wanting their partner to also have access to their baby (HCP group 1)
Difficulty accessing prenatal and postnatal care and servicesPrenatal
My biggest concern was that I had no prenatal education. I delivered at<hospital> and this was in July of 2020, and the OB floor was completely locked down. They weren't giving any and it was so new to the pandemic I don't think they had transition to like a virtual model (Parent group 2)
I was a bit surprised when I had my six week checkup postpartum and there wasn't a physical exam…I had a bit of a traumatic birth so I thought there may be more follow up but there wasn't. (Parent group 3)
Lack of accessing prenatal care, which can lead to kind of more difficulties with babies (HCP group 3)
Some parents…might not be able to financially afford to be able to go into these programmes (HCP group 3)
Poorly coordinated hospital care during and after birthAnd I went in and the doctors were really busy and [the nurse] came and she told me that she broke my water, but she didn't. I went for multiple hours of contractions again but my labour didn't actually progress. Then there was a shift change, the nurse came in and she said they didn't actually break your water and that’s why you've been in labor for this long. So they had to call the doctor but the doctor was busy, so a few hours later, they finally broke my water (Parent group 1)---
Virtual visits too short and insufficientI don't feel like there were as many questions, as many checks. It was very like okay, okay, okay you're fine, bye (Parent group 3)---
In-person visits stressful due to COVID-19 protocolsWearing all these masks, I was so exhausted going to the appointments. I couldn't even focus properly on the pregnancy when I was at these appointments because I was just so tired of not being able to breathe properly, and also being worried about who was around me and am I walking in the right spot. I think there was just a lot of stress regarding the appointments (Parent group 1)---
Hesitant to reach out to doctors for helpThe messaging everywhere from doctors, from the media was don't go, don't call, don't overrun the system. Anytime I had a question or there was something that seemed off to me, I was just so hesitant to call my doctor or to call anyone for help (Parent group 1)---
Having to search for information onlineWomen are left to their own devices, searching social media. For example, I made myself sick in safe sleep groups, to the point that I couldn't sleep…I was so scared… that was a very sad thing (Parent group 2)---
Fear of getting the vaccine and COVID-19I even paid extra to get the private room, and they were like, well we can't guarantee it. I'm like, what do you mean? The pandemic isn't over, you can't put me and my newborn child with two people that I don't know (Parent group 2)---
Stress and anxiety due to lack of care and support, and heightened anxiety about child safetyThe uncertainty that I've experienced as a mother, coupled with the uncertainty of the pandemic has exacerbated my imposter syndrome to be a mom and provide the right care for my child (Parent group 3)
Less stressful for those with midwives and who already had a child
Because it was my first child, when she was first born, I wanted help, I wanted visitors, I wanted people around. And I just felt like we were so alone. (Parent group 2)
I had the midwives come to my house for the first 10 days after birth, so they were really good about following up (Parent group 2)
I saw significant stress and distress among parents. And I felt that often this led to anxiety, and some of it very warranted around a lack of equitable access to care (HCP group 1)
That mental health piece, we saw that in infants right away, and we felt it with parents as well, their anxiety to leave the child (HCP group 2)
It’s maternal mental health for sure, but also all the things that go along with being a first time parent and your feeling of competency (HCP group 2)
Babies more susceptible to getting sickSince we started back at daycare in May, cannot keep her healthy. I know there’s a little period of adjusting, but it seems so much more frequent to me than I experienced with my son (Parent group 3)---
Babies have delayed developmentHe wants to be social and wants to interact with people, but also has no idea how to and it makes him nervous (Parent group 3)Socially and emotionally they're also affected because a lot of the children were very, very attached to their parents (HCP group 3)
Because of all the mask wearing, they're not seeing how your mouth is actually moving. A lot of speech is what we're noticing a lot (HCP group 2)
More bottle than breast feeding---We saw their breastfeeding success rates decrease. A lot of parents, both moms and dads, said, ‘let’s just do bottles. Let’s just get out of here as fast as possible.’ (HCP group 1)
Entire families hit by COVID-19 due to lack of paid sick days---COVID would hit the house, or a parent would think they had symptoms and they wouldn't stay home because they had to put food on the table…I was literally seeing in my practice how lack of paid sick days were impacting parents and the children (HCP group 1)
  • HCP, healthcare professional.