Midwife looks to turn focus from hospital to postpartum care during pandemic

Posted at 3:36 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 19:21:01-04

CLEVELAND — Like most of us, Michelle Witten has been in quarantine since Mid-March.

“We do miss family and friends,” she said. “I think that’s the hardest part."

Unlike most of us, she’s been home with a newborn. “Its a weird time warp/time crawl because you’re so sleep-deprived and then - but there’s also this baby and it’s fun and exciting and it’s new,” she said about the last eight weeks.

Her second child, Maggie, was born on March 24, one day after Ohio’s stay-at-home order started. Witten decided to have Maggie at home with a midwife instead of at a hospital.

“It was the pandemic that ultimately pushed me in this direction,” she said. News 5 talked to Witten about her decision to have a home birth a few days before Maggie was born.

But, when the midwife and doula left her house, it was just Witten and her husband now at home with a 3-year-old and a newborn.

“Some people have come and visited through the window but that’s all you can do,” she said. Witten misses her family and her church community and she is concerned about postpartum depression.

“[Doctors] were afraid I was going to have all these postpartum depression issues because I was high risk for that,” she said. “I have White Coat Syndrome so, like, hospitals freak me out to begin with.”

Witten isn’t alone. A 2013 study released in the JAMA Psychiatry shows nearly 600,000 women in the United States suffer from postpartum depression in the first year after a child is born.

Witten’s midwife, Colleen Kennedy-Schroeder doesn’t want post-birth care to be forgotten.

“We’re kind of in this survival mode,” Kennedy-Schroeder said.

She worries that care after a woman goes home isn’t the focus while everyone watches what happens inside the hospitals. Searches for postpartum depression have been rising.

A Google Trends line shows a steady uptick in searches across the U.S. The climb started in mid-March when the pandemic was declared. “Birth doesn’t end right when the baby comes out,” Kennedy-Schroeder said. “That’s just the beginning. That postpartum care is equally, if not more, important.”

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.