Postcards from Home – 15 – Te’sa Lenee

“It’s really uncomfortable to wear PPE for such a long time and to be in such an intimate space with somebody…there is an element of connection that’s missing…I’m trying to find a way to introduce…connection and ensure that these women are having positive birth experiences”

Te’sa is a student midwife, a mother and tends a smallholding on the edge of Trinity County in California. She sent her postcard via satellite connection on 21 May when she was home, writing up her midwifery notes in the company of her toddler daughter and husband. 

Te’sa talks about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected her work as a home birth and community based women’s health provider. She reveals how this new reality is forcing a reassessment of her own, impending, birthing choices.

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The state of California, particularly its cities, have been greatly impacted by COVID-19. As of 22 May there were 88,479 confirmed cases and 3,605 deaths, though numbers are likely to be much higher.  

Northwest located Trinity is a wilderness area that is also the second poorest county in the state having already suffered a decade of low investment. In a population of approximately 12,500 residents, it is the least densely populated of counties in California. It’s a contributing factor for why there has been a single case of Coronavirus

That doesn’t mean that life hasn’t changed. The California ‘stay at home’ order put in place on 19 March is very gradually being lifted. However, as Te’sa describes, precautions are radically changing workplace practices and influencing the choices available to women needing maternal care. 

As a result, there is a resurgence of interest in home birth or birthing centre options rather than the typical hospital birth with its higher rate of interventions – and higher COVID-19 risks. There is a woeful shortage of midwives in the US which is why the profession needs more women like Te’sa. 

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