October 30, 2020

DAUS Alumna, Emily Nadal (BA ‘20), Chronicles Childbirth during the Pandemic

DAUS alumna and former NYU SPS Dean’s Undergraduate Scholar, Emily Nadal, recently published an article in Bklyner, discussing the impact COVID-19 has had on expecting mothers. She graduated NYU SPS in 2020 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences with a concentration in Psychology. 

Emily’s interest in pursuing journalism was ignited during her final semester at DAUS. As a result of taking Literary Journalism with Debra Winter, Emily was able to explore different writing styles and topics and delve further into thinking about the places she would most like to see her writing published. With Professor Winter’s encouragement, Emily applied and was accepted to the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. As part of her graduate work this semester, Emily is covering Brooklyn, focusing on the East Flatbush area where she sees maternal/fetal health as a pressing matter. She explains the genesis of her Bklyner article:

“What was initially going to be a story covering a community baby shower expanded into something much larger when we realized that many moms did not show up because they went into labor a few weeks early. I realized in the middle of reporting that the baby shower brought to light common themes of stress and a need for connection for new and expectant moms in high stress living situations.”

About future projects, Emily says, “There are so many more topics I want to cover, and some that are in the works right now. Housing is another big issue in the neighborhoodI cover, so that is something I have been writing about lately. Overall, the pandemic has shaped every single part of our lives, so that usually pops up in my writing.”

Read below an excerpt from the article in Bklyner.

“Giving Birth During Pandemic: East Flatbush Moms Dream Of Homebirth, Try To Make The Best Of It

Emily Nadal

October 7, 2020

On a table set up outside on Rogers Avenue in East Flatbush for a community baby shower, gift bags filled with diapers, formula and other baby necessities sat unclaimed – six of the 20 moms had gone into labor in the last 48 hours, earlier than expected. 

“There’s high anxiety, especially now during COVID,” says Rhea Smith, Vice President of The West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), who organized the baby shower on Rogers Avenue. “Imagine you being pregnant, you’re already stressed because your body is stressed being pregnant, but now [because of COVID] you may have to find a new hospital, a new doctor, possibly a new birth plan, and hope that it all works out for a successful birth outcome. All those things add to hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes and all of these things that these women face.”

High stress has been known to have a negative impact on pregnant mothers leading to preterm labor and low birth weight. COVID-19 has only exacerbated many stressors East Flatbush residents faced before the pandemic- like housing and food insecurities.

“We know that women experience stress throughout pregnancy, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Laura Sienas, M.D. and Acting Assistant Professor of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Washington. “Psychosocial stress in pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of spontaneous preterm birth. It is challenging to determine if the risk of preterm birth associated with COVID19 is due to spontaneous labor or due to need for early delivery for either maternal health benefit or treatment of developed pregnancy complications.”

Smith and her team plan to assist 500 moms by December and continue to mitigate the stressors affecting moms. They are looking ahead at the possibility of another lockdown, and want to make sure the women they work with are prepared too. This includes not only making sure they have necessary supplies, but also that they understand their options and rights when it comes to their pregnancy and labor.

The full article can be accessed on the Bklyner Newsletter website.

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