In the maternity ward, “find a link” despite the Covid and the mask “barrier”

Folded in on itself in the spring, a Parisian maternity hospital is going through the second wave of Covid-19 by trying to maintain a minimum of visits and to enforce as much as possible the wearing of the mask, which the parents put up with as best they can.

Eyes misted with happiness and fatigue, Grégoire, 34, relishes his first “skin to skin” shirtless with his son, born just a few minutes ago at the maternity ward of the Diaconesses, in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. A moment suspended, after a long wait concluded by a caesarean. Captivated by the cries of the infant huddled in his arms, the young father does not seem to care about the mask covering his mustache and his smile.

“I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. It’s so emotionally intense that we completely forget that we have the mask,” he confides a few hours later, lying in a small room. of rest, while his companion recovers in the recovery room.

A scene unimaginable a few months ago: during the first epidemic wave, the “co-parent” could certainly attend the birth, but “we kept him only two hours after childbirth, then he did not return until the exit. “, the midwives sometimes taking care of bringing woman, child and suitcases to the square, remembers Dr Thierry Harvey, head of the maternity ward.

At the beginning, “we were in the total unknown, everyone was scared to catch the virus,” he admits, including some caregivers who “did not want to enter the rooms” of infected patients. In doubt and urgency, “we asked women to wear masks because we did not know”.

A new constraint which has been perpetuated, has become the object of controversy outside, but above all a source of apprehension for parturients. “I was afraid that it would create unnecessary difficulties. Childbirth is already an ordeal, I wondered how it was surmountable with a mask”, relates Eléonore, 37, relieved to have “met a very human staff, which allowed me to withdraw it as soon as I was in difficulty “. “In the end it went well,” she adds.

– Defuse stress –

In this service which receives more than 200 patients per month, the concerns of future mothers also weigh on caregivers. From the prenatal consultations, “they all ask us if they will have to wear the mask in the labor room”, and during childbirth, some women are “immediately on the defensive when we ask them to put it on”, reports Charlène, 25 years old, midwife.

She speaks of “tension”, of “mistrust”, has the impression of being “always negotiating” with those who “have nothing but the mask in mind”. An obsession which “spoils the moment for them, and us too”, she regrets. One of her colleagues just puts on an FFP2 model to go to a patient who has just shouted: “I can’t take this mask anymore!”

To defuse the stress before a cesarean section or a forceps extraction, Coralie, 41, gynecologist-obstetrician, “shows (her) face when entering the room”, to free herself for a few seconds from this mask that she “feels ( t) kind of like an additional barrier “. But one way or another, “we manage to find a connection, things are done,” she says.

The coronavirus has interfered in his relationship with patients, but not in his medical practice: “It did not change anything in our actions, nor in our equipment. We already wore masks, charlottes and glasses before the Covid “.

Dr Harvey also notes that his department is not recording “more caesareans, forceps or episiotomies” than before.

For the parents either, “it hasn’t changed much,” said Olivier, 45, who is expecting his second daughter from one hour to another. “We are just asked to wear a mask, it’s not torture, we should all be able to do it,” he said.

Bedridden by her side, Anne-Sophie, 33, lets go between two contractions that she has “a pasty mouth” and “thirsty very quickly” under her mask. A lesser evil: “We have no choice: if we want to preserve the healthcare teams, it’s up to us to protect them”.

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