Women's Work

My ongoing project looks specifically at women’s health by following a group of midwives across the Los Angeles area during the Covid-19 pandemic. The midwives have been inundated with calls from new mothers desperate to switch to a home birth due to the outbreak, a dangerous decision to make so close to their due date. Practices have been adapted, from moving a birth clinic outdoors to switching to Telehealth over home visits. These adjustments add anxiety to an already difficult field and new mothers are suffering on several fronts as well. One midwife has seen a rise in breached births due to the extraordinary stress pregnant women are under. As the pandemic is bringing to light many injustices in our society, it is doing the same with the maternity care system. Most hospitals aren’t allowing partners or support staff inside so mothers are forced to give birth alone. If they test positive for Covid-19, they are separated from their baby for 2 weeks. There are, however, joyous moments of hearing the babies heartbeat for the first time and seeing the skilled hands of a midwife comfort a nervous mother or move a breached baby into position. Though this project sounds bleak, the act of women helping women is a wonderful thing to see.

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Women's Work by Maggie Shannon

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