Expecting mothers, pregnancy centers navigate COVID-19 restrictions

Josh LeBerte, Contributing Writer

Pregnancy centers across the state have been shut down or faced extensive precautions due to COVID-19. One center in St. Clair County, however, has used this situation to give back to their community in more ways than one.


Nurse Practitioner Lauren Maynard is expecting a baby boy in May. A soon-to-be parent in this trying time, Maynard said there are additional concerns that come along with bearing a child during a pandemic. 


“I have been most worried about the potential of our newborn being exposed to COVID-19 during our hospital stay,” Maynard said. “We are first-time parents, and in a normal world, there is anxiety that comes with bringing a newborn home, but it is just all amplified with the pandemic going on in the background.”


Maynard said that hospitals are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of hospital staff and patients. 


“Hospitals are only allowing one support person for the mom during labor and delivery,” Maynard said. “No family or friends are allowed during the hospital stay. This is hard emotionally for new mamas.”


Brookwood Hospital, where Maynard plans to give birth, was among the majority of hospitals in the state implementing this rule.


“At first it was very hard to hear that friends and family cannot visit,” Maynard said. “I have had time to process this, though, and know that it is ultimately what is best for the safety of our baby boy, and that comes first.”


Expecting mothers often seek additional guidance before they get to the hospital and have their baby. St. Clair Sav-A-Life is a pregnancy center and can accommodate these needs by implementing tools that make their services available despite the pandemic. 


Angie Cantrell, director of St. Clair County’s Sav-A-Life, said changes in business procedures occurred as soon as Alabama received its first confirmed COVID-19 cases.


“Once we received the news about the virus spreading to the U.S. and the recommendations, we started limiting the number of clients coming into the center to only those who needed pregnancy confirmation for Medicaid or WIC (Women, Infant and Children),” Cantrell said. “We canceled all parenting class and ultrasound visits to protect the health of our clients, volunteers and staff, as well as prevent the spread of the virus.”


After sanitary practices began to shift, clients began to speak to Cantrell regarding their concerns of the virus. 


“Most of our expecting clients have been concerned about being able to get insurance started,” Cantrell said. “Their other concerns have been more about financially being able to survive during this time.”


Cantrell said that in addition to classes and visits to the center, she knew families would be in need of other necessities.


“We have helped [families] with diapers, wipes and formula as needed,” Cantrell said. “We have also shared with them about other resources such as food ministries and encouraged them to reach out to other organizations as they have a need.”


Cantrell says this need comes from limited stock in stores as well as financial instability due to COVID-19.


“Not only were they hard to find in the stores, but some families who lost income were not able to afford them once the items were back in stock,” Cantrell said. “This is still the case for many even a month after the news has hit.”


 According to Cantrell, the center takes necessary sanitary precautions when giving out materials to families in need. Families can call the center to notify the staff of which items they need, then a member of the staff meets them at their car. St. Clair Sav-A-Life also began offering pregnancy and parenting classes through text messages and phone calls. 


“COVID-19 has not changed our mission, just the way we are able to deliver those services,” Cantrell said. “Our goal is still to offer hope, help and healing to families facing an unplanned pregnancy through caring and compassionate services, education and support.”