1. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

Article Content

There is a growing body of literature on the psychosocial effects of the global pandemic on childbearing women and their nurse caregivers. The lived experiences of birthing mothers during the pandemic and their nurses are worth consideration in planning future care. Several qualitative studies document their adaptation to unplanned changes and the effects on their physical and mental wellbeing.


Ajayi et al. (2021) analyzed 83 birth story videos posted on YouTube in 2020. Most of the women gave birth in the United States. Researchers concluded that compassionate patient-centered communication and nurse sensitivity to their needs made a significant difference in the quality of women's birth experiences and reduced maternal anxiety and uncertainty during a potentially difficult time. Although some women described a sense of loss in the face of sometimes poor communication and lack of personalized attention, one woman described a nurse that was "fantastic." She said, "I'm so glad that she was there with me because she was great" (Ajayi et al., 2021, p. 288). Another noted that restricted access to friends and family was great, "the most peaceful hospital experience...I loved it" (Ajayi et al., p. 288). Several mothers described "a really strong bonding moment with your husband. It's actually truly beautiful to be able to share that with your partner" (Ajayi et al., p. 288). One woman said, "I feel like the nurses and doctors have just gone like above and beyond during this time to make people still feel cared for and feel at ease during this really scary time" (Ajayi et al., p. 290). Similar findings of women's experiences were noted by Breman et al. (2021) in a study of 388 women who gave birth in the United States in the first months of the pandemic. Modifications in care routines, restrictions, mental health, and concerns about communication with caregivers were prominent themes.


Labor in nurses in the United States reported major changes in their roles and concerns about being able to provide enough direct hands-on care to support women effectively (George et al., 2021). They were required to adapt to rapidly fluctuating conditions for maternity care and advocate for their patients while worrying about their own personal health and psychological wellbeing (George et al.). Comparable results were noted in a study of midwives in Iran during the COVID-19 pandemic (Khanjarian & Sadat-Hoseini, 2021). They described stages of emotional experiences in care provision including first disquietude (shock, the dilemma of continuing in nursing or leaving the profession), intellectuality including emotions (such as patience, self-sacrifice, and spiritual growth), and culminating in human transcendence (a sense of love for nursing, appreciation from a supportive community, and enhanced respect and valuing of nurses).


More research is needed to increase understanding of the lived experiences of maternity nurses as well as childbearing women receiving nursing care during the prolonged global pandemic. Listening to the voices of women giving birth and comparing their perceptions of their birthing experiences with midwives and nurses providing professional care is essential. Lived experiences can be posted, documented, and evaluated via a variety of mediums: on social media platforms, blogs, slides, virtual support groups, and other venues. Analysis of these lived experiences can be emotionally and spiritually rewarding (Ajayi et al., 2021; Callister, 2004) and help guide provision of nursing care that is helpful, effective, and comforting to birthing women.




Ajayi K. V., Harvey I. S., Panjwani S., Uwak I., Garney W., Page R. L. (2021). Narrative analysis of childbearing experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. MCN. The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, 46(5), 284-292.[Context Link]


Breman R. B., Neerland C., Bradley D., Burgess A., Barr E., Burcher P. (2021). Giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic, perspectives from a sample of the United States birthing persons during the first wave: March-June 2020. Birth, 48(4), 524-533.[Context Link]


Callister L. C. (2004). Making meaning: Women's birth narratives. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 33(4), 508-518.[Context Link]


George E. K., Weiseth A., Edmonds J. K. (2021). Roles and experiences of registered nurses on labor and delivery units in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 50(6), 742-752.[Context Link]


Khanjarian F., Sadat-Hoseini A. S. (2021). Lived experiences of nurses providing altruistic care to patients with COVID-19. Nursing Outlook, 69(50), 767-779. https// [Context Link]