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Online group helps mothers in pandemic

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Zoe Kempe-Gibson was riddled with anxiety after her son, Archer, was born.

She had to have an emergency Caesarean section because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck.

That Archer was born on April 5, the second day of lockdown, only added to her emotional upheaval. As a result, the first-time mum didn't sleep for seven straight nights.

“I was very emotional afterward,” she said, adding that it didn't help that, because of Covid-19, her husband wasn't allowed in the operating room and had to leave King Edward VII Memorial Hospital shortly after her surgery.

“I had panic attacks,” she said. “I had anxiety attacks. I am not a needy person — I am sometimes too independent.”

Ms Kempe-Gibson found solace in a Facebook group, Pregnancy and Postpartum Support During Covid-19 Bermuda.

“I wanted to know if other women were going through this anxiety,” said Kristen Scott Ndiaye who, expecting her second child in September, started the group in March. “Were they thinking about what would happen the way I was? Initially, it was just me asking questions on Facebook.”

She went through a dark period after her daughter, Nahla, was born four years ago and worried that the pandemic might make things even worse the second time around.

Overnight, 100 people signed up to her page. Most of them were pregnant; the rest were new mothers. All were initially a little slow to share their experiences.

That all changed after Ms Kempe-Gibson shared her birth story on April 10.

“I was pretty religious on Kristen's chat,” she said. “I really found it incredibly helpful to have a good cry or share or hear other people's stories.”

Hearing that other people had experienced what she had, brought her peace.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Support now has more than 2,700 members and has branched out to include another group, Emerging Mothers, which meets weekly for a more intimate chat over Zoom.

Terri Tear joined the Facebook group after having her second child, Aiyana, five weeks ago.

Tested for Covid-19 when she reached the hospital, she did not get the results — which were negative — until after she had returned home. As a result, she had to keep a mask on constantly to protect her newborn.

She feels that she was rushed out of the hospital because of Covid-19 and that if she had stayed for four days — like she did with her first pregnancy — the hospital would have picked up on some problems.

“I started having some crazy headaches every time I stood up,” she said, explaining that spinal fluid leakage brought on by her epidural was the cause. Although it resolved itself in a week, she still felt helpless despite having her boyfriend and her mother with her at home.

“With Covid-19 you can't have many people over to assist,” she said. “The district nurse wasn't allowed to come. She could only call. Every time the group pops up I click on it. Even if I don't comment, it is nice to see how other moms are getting on. It is nice to know that I am not alone in certain situations.”

Ms Scott Ndiaye then teamed up with Angela Hovi, who founded Beyond Blue, a support group for mothers with postpartum depression and anxiety.

They now work together on another Facebook page started by Ms Scott Ndiaye called Levana's Well to educate women about giving birth in Bermuda during Covid-19.

The page regularly features webinars by professionals in the mother and baby care industry.

“Postpartum depression and anxiety is not some flash in the pan illness,” Ms Hovi said. “It is horrific. This can be a fatal illness.”

Look for Levana's Well, Beyond Blue and Pregnancy and Postpartum Support in Bermuda During Covid-19 on Facebook. Emerging Mothers meets every Friday at 10am. E-mail to join. For more information on Beyond Blue:

Reaching out: Kristen Scott Ndiaye with her daughter, Nahla. Kristen set up the page after experiencing postpartum depression and wanted to see who else had experienced it (Photograph supplied)
Terri Tear with baby Aiyana (Photograph supplied)
Zoe Kempe-Gibson shortly after giving birth to her son, Archer (Photograph supplied)
Angela Hovi with son Blake (Photograph supplied)
Terri Tear shortly before giving birth to her daughter, Aiyana (Photograph supplied)

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Published June 03, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated June 04, 2020 at 10:42 am)

Online group helps mothers in pandemic

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