When you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, it’s a time full of excitement — and a little worry. But thanks to the pandemic, there are now even more concerns to watch out for.
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According to the CDC, pregnant people might be at an increased risk for severe illness due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). However, being pregnant (or trying to become pregnant) during the COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t mean you’re at the mercy of the virus and its variants. You can protect yourself by washing your hands, wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance and avoiding public places where people don’t wear masks.
Ob/Gyn and reproductive infectious disease specialist Oluwatosin Goje, MD, offers more guidance for navigating a pandemic pregnancy.
A. Part of the stress is the unknown. We don’t know if or when life will return to pre-pandemic normal. So take it one day at a time and do your best to remain healthy and happy:
A. Both! We need to see you in person at critical milestones, but the rest can likely be done through telemedicine. I reassure patients that while the quantity of in-person visits may go down, the quality of your care remains high. You can expect these milestones during in-person visits:
Between these visits, you will likely have a virtual appointment every four weeks until 28 weeks, every two weeks until 36 weeks and weekly until delivery to discuss overall health and identify any concerns, which could indicate you need extra care. Also, if any of the screening results show a potential problem, you may need more in-person visits.
The purpose of increasing the use of telehealth is to ensure waiting rooms aren’t crowded and wait times aren’t prolonged. We want to minimize your exposure wherever possible. If we ask you to come into the clinic, it’s because the benefit outweighs the risk.
A. I generally talk about preferences, rather than birth plans. Things don’t always go as planned (pandemic or no pandemic). There are a few ways your preferences might change because of the coronavirus:
A. We want pregnant people to be relaxed and not anxious, so taking the time to be alone with your partner can be beneficial. If you plan well, it is possible. I recommend a road trip over flying somewhere because you’ll have less exposure to germs and crowds.
Choose a hotel or retreat center that offers room service and talk with the staff about their commitment to cleanliness to make sure you’re comfortable. Avoid crowded places and maintain, hand hygiene, use of facemasks and social distancing while having your babymoon retreat. And remember, regardless of how you travel, stop every two hours to use the bathroom, stretch your legs and stay hydrated.
A. You certainly deserve to be showered with love and attention, but this is not the time to throw caution to the wind. Keeping a physical distance remains very important, and that’s often hard to do with a crowd, even if it’s hosted outside.
If someone insists on throwing you a shower, remember — it’s your body and your baby. It’s perfectly fine to say no and suggest a contact-minimizing alternative, such as a virtual or drive-by baby shower.
But if you must have an in-person shower, please follow the guidelines. Have all attendees remain six feet apart and wear their masks at all times. And skip the refreshments, so people don’t need to remove their masks.
It’s safe to say that a pandemic pregnancy may be a pregnancy like no other. But with a few precautions, you can have a safe, memorable and even enjoyable experience.
A. First thing, don’t panic. Stay at home and inform your provider right away. Your provider’s office will switch your upcoming visit to a virtual one. Most symptoms start as mild, flu-like ones — fever, chills, cough, headache, body aches, joint pains, fatigue or loss of taste and smell. You might even feel like you have the flu or an upper respiratory infection. Your provider will guide you virtually and give parameters for when you’ll need to go to the emergency room.
If you’re having trouble breathing or have any other warning signs like pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or are having a hard time staying awake, seek emergency care.
Also, let people know that they have been exposed to COVID-19, especially co-workers or family members residing in the same house. At home, stay away from others and monitor your symptoms. If you can’t isolate yourself from others, wear a mask in their presence.
And if your symptoms are mild, rest and stay hydrated. You can also take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help manage your symptoms.
A. Doctors have stated emphatically, time and time again, that people can get the vaccine and plan for a family. They can get the vaccine and conceive, and even if they get the first dose and get pregnant, they can go ahead and get the second dose, too. It’s especially important for pregnant patients to receive the vaccine because they are at an increased risk for severe illness compared to non-pregnant patients. They had increased rates of hospitalization, increased ICU stays and an increased risk of being intubated compared to non-pregnant patients, according to the CDC. But if you have questions or concerns, have an open discussion with your healthcare provider instead of just declining the vaccine outright.