Editor’s note: This blog is a two-part series for expectant moms during COVID-19. A second article on labor & delivery/postpartum care can be viewed by clicking here.
When you are pregnant, you may have questions about what is safe or not safe for you and your baby. During the COVID-19 pandemic, fears and anxiety may be heightened for you and your family’s health. Rest assured, with information changing so rapidly, Women’s Health providers, like those at Marshfield Clinic Health System, are working to stay up-to-date and be there for you and your baby.
Health System providers offer answers to some important questions for prenatal care during the pandemic.
How do I prevent myself from contracting the virus while pregnant?
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we do not know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19.
Despite the unknown, Katie Van Dreese, certified nurse midwife, shares five tips to help prevent contracting COVID-19 while pregnant:
- Wash your hands and do not touch your face.
If you are going to the store, wipe down you cart, wear gloves and keep some hand sanitizer in your car.
“This virus does live on surfaces and we don’t realize how much we touch while at the store just picking up food,” she said.
- Stay home as much as possible.
To reduce your risk, you must not interact with others and practice social distancing because people might be carrying the virus but be asymptomatic, which means they have no symptoms. This does not mean you can have friends and family over to your house. Van Dreese added that to reduce infection and spreading of the virus, you should only have contact with those who live with you.
- Get outside in a healthy way.
“Try to go for walks alone or with your partner if they are healthy,” Van Dreese said. “Pregnancy is always a time to be moving and movement can keep your body and baby happy.”
- Start meditating or finding a time to relax.
Van Dreese said staying calm and doing something good for your mind is healthy during pregnancy. “A healthy mind can definitely impact the body,” she said.
- Ask questions.
“Information is power and we are doing our best to stay informed as should you,” she said.
How does COVID-19 affect my prenatal appointments?
Prenatal appointments will continue to be as regular as possible. In an effort to limit exposure, Dr. Maria Mascola, Maternal Fetal Medicine physician, said the Health System staff has been thinking of ways to modify prenatal visits.
For some pregnant women with uncomplicated pregnancies, prenatal care visits might be spaced out, particularly in the first two trimesters. Telehealth is another option to have virtual visits with your provider.
“In some situations, prenatal assessments could be done via phone calls or video calls,” Mascola said. “However, prenatal care is important and women should still plan to come in for care.”
Some locations have “clean” or “well” centers or spaces for healthy pregnant patients to prevent the spread of the virus. Prior to your visit, check with your provider or nurse on specific entrances or areas for you.
For women with higher risk pregnancies, it isn’t as easy to have fewer visits. Your provider may try to find ways to minimize your appointments. Mascola gave the example of a woman with high blood pressure. You may be able to take your blood pressure at home and report your numbers to your provider.
“This could save you some visits to your provider’s office,” she said.
However, if you have medical concerns or questions, contact your provider immediately. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have any symptoms, call the Health System’s Nurse Line at 1-844-342-6276 before coming in to your doctor’s office, urgent care or emergency department.
Will my partner/support person be allow to come to appointments?
For prenatal appointments, our providers encourage those who do not need to come to the clinic to stay home. This reduces the risk of exposure to staff, patients and communities.
“This keeps us healthy so we can continue to work and provide the best care possible,” Van Dreese said.
FaceTime or phone calls using your personal device may be an option to keep your partner/support person involved during appointments. Talk to your provider for approval first to make sure phones are allowed during your visit.
As information is always changing, if you have additional questions, reach out to your provider.