Easing Your Fear: Adjusting Pregnancy Care During COVID-19

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Pregnancy can be an exciting time for you and your family. But with stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules in place, suddenly frequent check-up visits with your doctor can seem more stressful.

Routine prenatal visits are necessary to keep tabs on your pregnancy. Your doctor or midwife uses this time to:

  • Review any recent tests or lab work
  • Listen to baby’s heart tones
  • Discuss immunization
  • Share your labor and delivery options
  • Talk with you about baby’s movements
  • Answer any of your questions

“Your first obstetrical visit happens around 8 weeks into pregnancy,” says Brent Davidson, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist at Henry Ford Health System. “From there, you will meet with your prenatal provider before the 12-week mark and then monthly until 28 weeks along, every 2 weeks until the 36-week point and then once a week until delivery.”

With the COVID-19 outbreak dominating the news and changing our daily routines, many moms are nervous about going to doctor’s appointments. And hospital visitor restrictions can make it more difficult to come to appointments if you have other children in your care. Fortunately, women’s health providers are adjusting how they deliver care by offering video office visits.

Prenatal Virtual Care

“We are trying to give our patients more options,” says Dr. Davidson. “As of now, we are able to see patients as early as 16 weeks along by video office visits.”

Video visits allow the doctor to check in on you and your baby without you coming in for an appointment. Your appointment will carry on as normal with the help from some tools you’ll need so the doctor can make a proper evaluation:

  1. Blood pressure cuff. Available at most drug stores, this cuff simply helps the doctor monitor your blood pressure levels remotely.
  2. Fetal doppler. Your doctor will instruct you how to position this heart rate monitor so that you both can listen to baby’s heart tones in real time. “Be patient and calm. Sometimes it can be hard to get the positioning right and tell the difference between your pulse and baby’s heart at first.” If you don’t own a fetal doppler, you can borrow one from family or friends, or purchase your own online.
  3. Scale. Frequent weigh-ins are important to make sure you are gaining a healthy amount of weight during your pregnancy.

Because these appointments are over video, you can take the call while you are at home or during a break at work. Your partner is even welcome to join in so they are up-to-date and informed about your pregnancy.

Preparing To Go To The Hospital

If you are nearing your due date, or have a high-risk pregnancy, your doctor may need to see you in person to monitor your pregnancy more closely. If that is the case, special protocols are in place to streamline your visit.

“We assume that pregnant women are at high risk of COVID-19 because of our experiences with the flu,” says Dr. Davidson. “Guidelines are in place to make sure everyone coming into the hospital or clinic, including you, is properly screened.”

As always, you can put your mind at ease by continuing to practice social distancing, proper hand hygiene and taking precautions to clean and disinfect the surfaces you touch.

Labor, Delivery and Postpartum Care

If you’ve had children before, your labor and delivery experience this time around may not be exactly what you are used do. Many hospitals have visitor restrictions that only allow for your partner to be with you during this time.

“While you may be used to welcoming your new baby with extended family or baby’s older siblings, we have to restrict visitors to keep you and everyone in the hospital safe,” says Dr. Davidson. That being said, you are still able to call or video chat with family to keep them updated during your hospital stay.

While some physical aspects of postpartum care can’t be done over video visit, your doctor may still be able to check on how you are doing remotely.

“If you’ve had a c-section, you can show your doctor the incision to make sure you are healing well,” Dr. Davidson says. “We are also able to do evaluations for postpartum depression remotely and prescribe any medications you might need.”

Virtual pregnancy care can make things easier for you, regardless of whether we’re living through a pandemic. Talk to your doctor at your next in-person appointment to see if it would be an option for you. In the meantime, Dr. Davidson advises patients to try and not focus specifically on the virus.

“Pregnant or not, make sure to keep your mental health up. Go outside, take a walk and try to be as active as you can while social distancing.”

Have more questions?
Join us for a Facebook Live Q & A on Pregnancy and COVID-19
Wednesday, April 8 at 1 p.m. 


For more information about Henry Ford’s virtual prenatal care services and how to get set up for your appointment, visit henryford.com/virtualob

For up-to-date information about Henry Ford Health System’s response to the coronavirus, visit henryford.com/coronavirus.

Dr. Brent Davidson is an obstetrician and gynecologist who sees patients at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and Henry Ford Medical Center – Bloomfield Township. He is also the Vice-chairman of Women’s Health Services at Henry Ford Health System.

Categories: FeelWell