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A difficult pregnancy during a pandemic – one family’s first-hand account

Going through labour and delivery during COVID-19 might seem a bit scary, but it’s still safe to seek care.
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​Jeanne Castillo visited BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre six times during her pregnancy through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Once was just overnight, others were for a few days, but on her last visit, she stayed in the hospital for more than three weeks.

Jeanne had reoccurring issues with bleeding as she had complete placenta previa, meaning her placenta covered her entire cervix.

“We were on red alert all the time,” says Jeanne. “It was very worrisome.”

“They said the baby was going to come on that last visit so that would have been six weeks early, but fortunately things settled down with the baby,” says father Rob McCarron. “They scheduled her for the C-section and the baby still came four weeks early.” 

The couple took the extra infection prevention and control precautions at BC Women’s during the pandemic in stride. The hospital has screeners at the entrances, as well as hand-washing stations. Patients and visitors are offered medical masks to wear. Staff don personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary. 

“It didn’t interfere with the care we received at the hospital,” Rob says. “Everyone there was professional and we felt safe.”

There were nearly 41,000 births in the province last year, and about 7,200 of those births happened at BC Women’s. Many, like Rob and Jeanne, found the experience of giving birth during COVID-19 was still a positive one.

Dr. Nicole Todd is among the family’s care providers at BC Women’s.

“Pregnancy, and childbirth can be a time of joy, and also a time of fear for families,” says Nicole. “This can especially be true during COVID-19, when families are uncertain how their prenatal care, labour, delivery and post-partum will be experienced. At BC Women’s, we are doing our best to ensure that we remain focused on providing patient- and family-centered care, all within the COVID-19 recommendations. Our high-risk antenatal ward allows for partner support, and this transitions to labour and delivery, and even in to the operating room.”

Baby Caidyn was born Nov. 9, 2020. Soon after, Rob posted a Message of Thanks on the BC Women’s website:

“Thank you to all the nurses and doctors for taking great care of my girlfriend for three weeks and delivering my premature son, Caidyn. Especially on Evergreen and Dogwood. I am very grateful for all you have done for me and my family. Thank you and God bless all of you.”

Despite the pandemic, Rob remembers the day Caidyn was born as a joyous occasion.

“I was worried so much, for so long, as soon as I saw the baby, I was so relieved,” says Rob.

After the baby was born, there were several tests, including for stress, blood and hearing. A lactation consultant visited regularly. (Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding are still recommended during the pandemic as human milk has antibodies and immune factors that protect the health of babies.) 

Jeanne even had the chance to make a couple of crafts offered at the hospital. She made baby booties and black-and-white flash cards to help stimulate the baby’s sight. She even voted during the provincial election while in hospital.

“I was very surprised because that morning, I went to vote myself and then I went to the hospital to see Jeanne. They came right into the room to let her vote,” says Rob.

Now, back home, Jeanne and the baby are both thriving. 

“I’m doing great now,” says Jeanne. “The baby is growing and asking to be fed all the time. He has no heath issues. The care we received was excellent.”

Along with Nicole, the team that treated the family included Dr. Justine Spencer, Dr. Danielle Chard and the compliment of nurses and extended care team.

“It was a pleasure for myself and obstetrical colleagues to look after Jeanne during her pregnancy and delivery,” says Nicole. “It makes me proud to work at a hospital that remains focused on families – a theme that continues to ring true even during COVID-19. Congratulations to Jeanne, Rob and welcome Caidyn!”

"Taking care of Jeanne was such a pleasure,” says Justine. “Despite her difficult pregnancy, she always faced her challenges with a smile. It was a delight to watch her become a mother and meet beautiful baby Caidyn. Hearing her family's message of thanks to the BC Women's team brings me so much joy."

“We met a lot of people since we spent so long there,” says Rob. “The doctors and nurses were great – very helpful, nice and accommodating. We’re just very grateful.”

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