Giving birth can be an anxiety-producing experience even when there isn’t a global pandemic going on. But, as America Ferrera said in a new interview, giving birth during the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic was full of uncertainty—and especially stressful.
Ferrera gave birth to her second child, daughter Lucia Marisol, in May of 2020. At that time, the U.S. was just beginning to come down from the country’s first COVID-19 surge, and many hospitals were overwhelmed and on lockdown. For people who were planning to have a baby, there were plenty of unknowns, including whether or not guests (and birthing partners) would be allowed to be present during births.
“Things were really quite scary,” Ferrera told E! News. Because she was already planning to have a C-section, “not going to the hospital was not an option for me,” the Superstore star and Gentefied executive producer said. “And hospitals were ground zero at that time and [it was] a little bit scary to not know how that would be or whether or not my husband was going to be able to be with me during and after the birth and, you know, if I would be safe, if my daughter would be safe.” In December, Ferrera shared a photo of her time in the hospital—wearing a mask and gloves.
People who are pregnant do have higher risks for severe COVID-19 complications than people who aren’t pregnant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say. So hospitals were doing everything they could to reduce the chances that pregnant people would be exposed to COVID-19 while they received care. But that left some new parents feeling extra lonely, anxious, and without support, SELF reported previously.
Being a parent—especially during the pandemic—made Ferrera even more aware of the economic and health disparities that some families face. The pandemic “only further highlighted the huge gaping disparities between what some parents and children have access to and what others don’t,” Ferrera told E! News. “I have always been a pretty empathetic human being, but once I became a mother, the thought of other parents not being able to provide for their children what they want to provide for their children is heart-shattering.”
It’s that spirit that led Ferrara to work with Vitamin Angels, a charity organization that helps provide nutritional support, breastfeeding counseling, and prenatal vitamins to pregnant people and their families.
One thing that Ferrara found helpful when nervous about giving birth was to remind herself that she wasn’t alone. “I really found myself having to take very deep breaths and try to keep a larger perspective and really trying to connect on some level, even just on a heart level, to all the other moms globally, and truly across time, who have had to be pregnant and give birth and raise children in unsure and scary times and unsure and scary circumstances,” she said.
And these days, she still finds comfort in remembering that “mothering and parenting and birthing and pregnancy are a unifying experience, a global experience.”