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Survey: Hawai‘i women say it’s tough to give birth during the pandemic

By: Cassie Ordonio

19 November 2020

Caroline Robert, 29, a Chukese mother, recently gave birth to her first baby, Bojino. Though she’s grateful that her son is healthy and her partner was by her side, there was one thing missing – her family.


“In our culture, it’s required to have family come, show love,” she said in an interview. “That was the hard part during my time of delivery because I knew my family was downstairs trying to visit me, but they (the hospital) cannot allow them.”


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, pregnant women felt abandoned. A new survey said they’re not wrong. The survey is called, “Pushing Through the Pandemic: The Impact of COVID-19 on Pregnant and Birthing Women and People in Hawai‘i.”


The survey was conducted for two weeks in September by the Hawai‘i Commission on the Status of Women and the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawai‘i.


The survey polled 106 women in Hawai‘i who were pregnant or had given birth. Most of the respondents were O‘ahu residents and women of color. 


The survey revealed that most mothers were allowed to have one person during labor, but could not leave the room and return. 


More than a quarter of the women said they were given a COVID-19 test at the hospital.


However, the women have reported that the hospital prohibited their partner from attending the birth of a child if the pregnant individual tested positive for COVID-19.


One mother, who was not named in the survey, had tested positive for COVID-19.


“Because I tested positive for COVID, my husband was not allowed to attend the birth of our daughter,” she said. “I was asymptomatic the entire time and finished my quarantine, but since my husband lived with me, he was not allowed in Kaiser.” 


“It is important for us to know what is happening to birthing people, especially within Black, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities during this pandemic,” said Tanya Smith-Johnson, certified professional midwife and policy director for Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaiʻi, in a press release. 


“These communities were already being disproportionately affected by the crisis, but what is happening to pregnant and birthing people is alarming and disheartening,” Smith-Johnson said. “We should look at the policies we have in place and ask ourselves are we centering and serving birthing people and their babies in the best ways possible.”

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