What to know if you’re pregnant during COVID-19
Pregnancy during a pandemic creates an unprecedented list of concerns.
“I think all of our patients have a certain degree of anxiety that they've never had before,”said Joshua M. Lupton, DO, an obstetrician and gynecologist who practices at Cape Cod Hospital.
“We're getting asked a lot of really good questions throughout the day from women who are first-time moms to moms who have already had four kids. It's definitely a very different time, something that none of us has experienced before.”
The best response to confusion and misinformation is trustworthy sources, he said.
“It’s a moving target, but we're trying to follow the guidelines from the CDC, the state Department of Public Health, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine,” he said.
“The guidelines that we have now are not the guidelines that we're going to have in a few weeks, most likely, because things are changing, but I think patients should understand that we are doing everything we can at Cape Cod Healthcare to keep moms and babies as safe as possible.
It’s more important than ever for an expectant mom to be in close contact with her OB/GYN.
“I'm telling women, ‘If you have any questions at all, just give the office a call, and I'll try to answer those questions as best as I can.’ I tell women, ‘This is the time to have controlled paranoia because that might help keep you safe,’” Dr. Lupton said.
Offices Taking Extra Precautions
Moms-to-be should feel comfortable about visiting their doctor because practitioners are taking many extra steps to keep patients safe, he said.
“Normally, we have patients scheduled every 15 minutes. Right now, we're scheduling patients every hour to make sure they are not in close proximity,” he said. “We wipe down everything that patients contact in our examination rooms. We're wiping down the pens and the clipboards before and after we give it to a patient. We're wiping down every single doorknob. We're wiping down blood pressure cuffs. We're wiping down Dopplers that we use for the baby's heartbeat. It's a lot of extra work, but we're taking those precautions to keep everyone safe.”
Dr. Lupton is seeing patients less frequently, but he encourages them to be in phone contact whenever necessary.
“For example, in the first trimester of pregnancy, when we normally see patients every four weeks, it's now every six weeks. Then at the beginning of that third trimester, it's every three weeks now, which is less frequent than normal. It's not until they hit 36 weeks that we'll see them every week until they deliver.”
Coronavirus concerns have also changed labor and delivery significantly, he said.
“Especially in the second stage of labor when a patient is hyperventilating and trying to push a baby out, every healthcare worker in labor and delivery wears a mask,” he said. “If a patient is suspected to be positive or has tested positive for COVID-19, we have full personal protective equipment.”
The emotional aspect of labor and delivery is very different, he said.
“I'm a hugging kind of a guy. I like handshaking. I like giving hugs to moms after they've pushed a baby out. It's a very emotional time, and we can't have any of that.”
With all of this, moms still can have a joyful situation experience, he said.
“Even though mom and dad can't see our faces, I think the joy in all of our voices translates to them. I think we all got into this business because we absolutely love helping moms deliver babies safely into the world, and that hasn’t changed.
“Fortunately, I think everyone is in this together. What I've heard from so many patients is we're all kind of counting our blessings and we're recognizing the things that we have to be grateful for. We think moms and dads are both recognizing that, which is a really nice thing to see.
Please click on the following link for more details on maternity care during COVID-19.