Gabriella Toussaint, of Peabody, was full of joy as she anticipated giving birth to her second child, but, like many pregnant mothers during this pandemic, she was also sad and a bit nervous about having to give birth without her partner present. Gabriela and her husband Reggie Toussaint made the decision that Reggie would stay home to tend to their six-year-old daughter Frida when Gabriela went into labor. “It was a difficult choice that we had to make, but I knew it was the right thing,” Gabriela said. When the day arrived for the birth in April, Gabriela found the North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) Birthplace staff ready to give her the support she needed and an exceptional experience.
“We understand that this is a very difficult and scary time for expecting moms and families,” NSMC Birthplace Director Lisa Cavallaro, R.N., said. “We’re doing everything possible to ensure the safety of everyone who comes into the Birthplace. We are following all CDC guidelines, are screening all patients, visitors and staff, follow a NSMC-wide masking policy and have a limited visitor. At the same time, our staff are more committed than ever to making sure each mom feels comfortable, confident and cared for.
A few days earlier Gabriella received a call from Karen Stevenson, R.N., who explained the Birthplace’s safety protocols to protect moms, babies and staff. “Being pregnant during this outbreak was very scary, but talking to the staff was really helpful. They addressed my concerns and made me feel confident and stress-free,” Gabriela said.
Once she was checked in, Gabriela relaxed in her private room and talked to obstetrician Rachel Consoli, M.D., about her birth plan and goals, one of which was involving her family in the delivery. Her team was excited to help and used Facebook Messenger to video chat and send pictures to her family to make them feel as if they were there. Birthplace staff Karen Stevenson and Sue Nevins, R.N., supported and cheered Gabriela on, along with her family connected virtually, as she welcomed her new baby.
“I would have felt incomplete if it wasn’t for my delivery team” Gabriela said. “They were all really there for me and personalized this experience by video chatting my family. It felt like they weren’t just delivering another baby. It felt like they were really trying to make this the best experience for me”.
Having her family witness these first few moments of her baby’s birth was especially important to Gabriela, as this was the moment that they would all learn about the baby’s gender. At 10:30 a.m., Alondra Toussaint was born and the family was thrilled to welcome another girl into their family.
“The last month of my pregnancy felt like a marathon with all of the anxiety about COVID-19 and being pregnant. When I met my daughter all I could think about was that she was healthy, I was healthy and that my family was with me. I felt like we finally made it,” Gabriela said.
The nurses continued to support Gabriela and Alondra by helping with skin-to-skin lactation and catering to her recovery needs. Feeling supported and loved by her birthing team and family, Gabriela then focused her attention to bonding with her new baby and enjoying their special time together.
“I’m so grateful for everything they did,” Gabriela said. “It’s a scary time and they understand moms and their feelings during this pandemic and they do everything they can to make you feel comfortable and safe. This was an extremely stress-free experience within the circumstances”.