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An official in Cairo, Illinois dispatched a message to his counterparts in Washington, DC. He warned, the “country below is in the hands of a howling mob.” Locals not yet touched by the disease went into lockdown. In the absence of permanent public health officials or institutions, coalitions of citizens and elected officials living in uninfected areas took up arms to impose “shotgun” quarantines to fend off outsiders.
Over the past few months, I have conducted interviews with people experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, and life with newborns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve spoken with single first-time mothers and working mothers of six, those who have had home births and those who have been induced in the hospital, those giving birth with emergency or scheduled cesarean sections. As is typical in any sample of pregnant women, some welcomed and celebrated the transition to motherhood while others resented their pregnancy and feared the birthing process.