Postpartum during a pandemic: Challenges of low-income individuals with healthcare interactions during COVID-19

Maria V. Gomez-Roas, Ka'Derricka M. Davis, Karolina Leziak, Jenise Jackson, Brittney R. Williams, Joe M. Feinglass, William A. Grobman, Lynn M. Yee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Changes to the healthcare system due to COVID-19 have altered care delivery during birth and the postpartum period, a transitional time that requires intensive healthcare support and that is complicated by well-established health disparities. Our objective was to identify additional challenges to healthcare interactions that emerged for low-income postpartum individuals during the pandemic. Methods This is a qualitative investigation of low-income postpartum individuals enrolled in a trial of postpartum care, who gave birth in the United States in the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants completed in-depth semi-structured interviews that addressed healthcare experiences during and after birth, both for in-person and telemedicine encounters. Transcripts were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Results Of 46 eligible individuals, 87% (N = 40) completed an interview, with 50% identifying as non-Hispanic Black and 38% as Hispanic. Challenges were organized into three domains: unanticipated changes in the birth experience, delayed care, and perceived disadvantages of telemedicine. Changes in the birth experience addressed uncertainty about COVID-19 status, COVID-19 testing, separation from newborn, and visitor restrictions. Delayed care themes addressed logistical challenges, postpartum care, health maintenance, and pediatric care. Participants reported multiple telemedicine-related challenges, including difficulty establishing rapport with providers. Conclusions Understanding the challenges experienced by low-income peripartum individuals as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves is critical to informing guidelines and diminishing inequities in healthcare delivery. Potential solutions that may mitigate limitations to care in the pandemic include emphasizing shared decision-making in care processes and developing communication strategies to improve telemedicine rapport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0268698
JournalPloS one
Issue number5 May
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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