How I Handled My Prenatal Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Sheila talks about prenatal care for her second pregnancy.
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Sheila was pregnant with her second child when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in 2020.
Sheila had gestational diabetes with her first child, so she was careful to continue her prenatal care during her second pregnancy. She met virtually with her ob-gyn team and went to a local hospital for ultrasounds as needed. Sheila delivered a healthy baby boy in August 2020.
In this edited interview, Sheila discusses how she managed her prenatal care and planned her birth in light of the risks of COVID-19.
[Sheila’s name has been changed at her request.]
ACOG: Tell us about the prenatal care you received during this pregnancy.
Sheila: The majority of my prenatal care was virtual. I found out I was pregnant in December or late November 2019. I started prenatal care at 8 weeks, in person. When the pandemic was declared in March 2020, I was about 15 or 16 weeks pregnant. I had video visits for my entire second trimester.
ACOG: What was the care like during virtual visits?
Sheila: We would check in about any warning signs or red flags. I would talk about my weight. I bought a blood pressure cuff to measure and record my own blood pressure. The schedule of visits was the same as it would have been if we had been in person.
ACOG: Did you have any red flags?
Sheila: During the anatomy scan, there was a part of the brain that couldn’t be seen. That suggested there might be a birth defect, so I needed a follow-up ultrasound to find out more. In the end, they could see that part of the brain on the ultrasound, and we were relieved.
I also had polyhydramnios, which is an excess of amniotic fluid. I’d had that during my first pregnancy too. It’s a complication of gestational diabetes. I had gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy but I passed the test this time. Even so, I went on a diabetic diet to be extra safe.
ACOG: How did you feel about the virtual doctor’s visits?
Sheila: The virtual part didn’t make me anxious. For the most part I could take care of what I needed to on my own, by monitoring my weight and blood pressure at home. If there was a problem, I knew I could talk to somebody.
ACOG: Why did you prioritize prenatal care appointments in spite of the coronavirus risk?
Sheila: For me, it’s a risk-benefit issue. Everything you do in public carries a risk. I didn’t want to expose myself to go to a restaurant—the benefit of that didn’t feel great enough. But the benefit of ensuring your future child’s health and safety is a risk worth taking. Also, I know medical offices are taking as many precautions as they can.
ACOG: How did your labor and delivery go? How was it different from your first birth?
Sheila: I had an induction scheduled, and I got tested for COVID-19 in advance. I tested negative and was in a tiny hospital, so I didn’t labor in a mask.
After the birth of our first child, family came to the hospital, and we ordered in take out. This was very different. This time, we went into the labor and delivery room, had no visitors, and did not leave until we went home. But everyone at my hospital was so warm, welcoming, and kind.
My baby was completely healthy. My labor was very fast, though I had a severe vaginal tear that had to be surgically repaired. The surgeon did a really good job. Afterward, I was connected with physical therapy to help my body heal. We did our sessions virtually or outdoors, to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
ACOG: What would you tell someone who is pregnant during the pandemic?
Sheila: I think telemedicine and virtual visits are a really wonderful way to reduce risk unless there’s a reason to go meet a doctor in person. Virtual visits did not affect the quality of my care. And I felt safe, like I was reducing my risk of exposure to COVID-19.
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Published: June 2021
Last reviewed: June 2021
Copyright 2021 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.
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