Pregnant during the Shutdown? What You Should Know and How Grand Rapids Hospitals are Keeping Mom & Baby Safe

Pregnancy during Coronavirus feature image

I’m Pregnant and Information is as Scarce as Face Masks and Hand Sanitizer

There are more unknowns than knowns with this virus.

When I was pregnant, I gave myself pep talks to work through discomfort. Whether it was nausea, fatigue (who knew growing a tiny human was SO exhausting?) or other aches and pains, I became my own personal cheerleader.

I reminded myself that the discomforts were temporary and focused on the excitement of meeting my babies.

But Being Pregnant During COVID-19 is Different

Today, we do not leave our homes without face masks and hand sanitizer.

Today, the majority of our doctors’ appointments are conducted via telemedicine.

We shelter in place, we social distance, and we flatten the curve.

We play by new rules that leave many expecting parents feeling uneasy and alone, and in need of a bigger pep talk.

Pregnant Mom COVID 19

What’s the Likelihood that Your Best-Laid Birth Plans will Fly out the Window?

Darn likely.

If you are pregnant during this wild time, you likely have many, many things on your mind. We hear you, mama-to-be.

The pandemic was not anyone’s plan, and I’m fairly certain no one has published What to Expect When You’re Expecting During a Pandemic to navigate this.

However, there are steps you can take both during your pregnancy and after birth to make your pandemic birth story a positive one.

One step – talk to your doctor, healthcare professional, or midwife on a regular basis. Ask questions about what to expect during labor and delivery and establish a backup plan.

How Metro Health is Helping Moms Give Birth Safely During Coronavirus

Dr. Jeffrey Postlewaite, DO, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health answered some of our team’s questions about COVID-19’s effects on pregnancy, and to get general advice for pregnant women. We have a few pregnant mamas on our team, and know many of you pregnant readers will have questions, too.

The information provided is up-to-date at the time of reporting, but hospital guidelines are subject to change.

*Please note: this list does not constitute medical advice and is for informational reference only. Medical advice should be provided by your own doctor or other health care professional.

COVID-19 Pregnancy FAQs from Metro Health

1. How are hospitals and doctors keeping birthing mothers safe?

Hospitals are taking extra precautions to screen pregnant women when coming in to deliver. Any mother that is exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19 will be treated as a person under investigation and be asked to wear a mask as a precaution.

They will be placed in a room away from healthy patients during their time in the hospital. In addition, their delivery team will wear masks as a precaution when interacting with the patient.

2. What should moms expect when they go into labor? Can spouses be present? Do the mom and partner wear a face mask?

The one change that impacts all new moms is the no visitor policy. All hospitals in West Michigan have prohibited visitors, including those for new moms, for the health and safety of patients and staff.

For a healthy mother, they shouldn’t expect anything different when they go into labor. A healthy mother will not need to wear a mask and they are allowed to have one birthing partner present for the birth.

If the mother has any symptoms of COVID-19 they would be considered a person under investigation and would be put through a health screening upon arrival. As a precaution, they will be asked to wear a mask during labor along with their birth attendant and delivery team.

3. If a woman thinks she might be pregnant and she doesn’t have an OBGYN, what’s her next step?

Metro Health OBGYNs are currently accepting new patients. If you are pregnant and need an OBGYN, you can contact our Women’s Health Center at 616-252-4410 to schedule an appointment.

We are doing both in-person and virtual visits with patients, so there are different options available based on your needs.

4. Options for the use of technology in the birthing room: Skype in another family member, or say a birthing coach/doula? Is this possible?

With the new visitor restrictions in place, moms are limited to only one birthing attendant. Patients are welcome to explore the use of technology to include others – a birthing coach or family member.

One recent example at Metro Health is a mother whose spouse was deployed in Iraq. The hospital was able to use a virtual platform to share the experience with him overseas.

5. Any impact on breastfeeding, if a new mom developed symptoms?

Data shows that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through breastmilk, nor will not change the breastmilk of a new mother.

If a breastfeeding mom develops symptoms of COVID-19, she could pass it along to her baby in the same way as everyone else. It is recommended that she wears a mask and practices proper hand hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus to others.

6. Have any babies been born in the U.S. with COVID-19? 

There are currently no cases of COVID-19 being passed on in utero. There is one case in the US of a COVID-19 positive newborn, but it is thought that the virus was passed along to the baby at time of birth.

7. Added precautions if a woman has to deliver via C-section / worry over the availability of a surgical room?  

COVID-19 has not impacted our delivery spaces for moms. We have plenty of birthing rooms as well as operating rooms available for moms needing C-sections.

8. Have there been issues with finding newborn supplies (diapers, formula)?  

We have heard from new mothers that newborn diapers and baby wipes are difficult to find at this time.

9. Will newborn wellness visits continue on the same schedule in office?

Yes, newborn well visits are still taking place. These are important visits that need to continue. Depending on the situation, some visits can take place virtually. This is something that moms can discuss with their child’s pediatrician.

10. Will moms have a 6-week postpartum visit in office?

Six-week postpartum visits are still taking place. Depending on the circumstances, mothers will be seen in the office or virtually. If there are no big concerns that need to be addressed, a virtual visit is a great option that doesn’t require moms to come into the office with their newborn.

Answers provided by Jeffery Postlewaite, DO,  Metro Health- University of Michigan Health on April 21, 2020.

Metro Health logo

Steps to Take Now, Before Baby is Born

While welcoming a baby during a pandemic can feel overwhelming, there are actions you can take today, to ensure a smoother pregnancy and postpartum period.

Maintain an Open Dialogue with your OB/GYN

One of the many challenges with the coronavirus is how quickly things change. As hospitals and providers adapt to new protocols, your best defense against this roller coaster (that no one wants to ride) are answers.

Although we’ve listed general FAQs – expecting moms have their own unique situations and birth plans. And, policies will differ based on your birthing location.

As the old proverb states, knowledge is power. The more questions prepared at hand to ask your prenatal doc or healthcare professional will allay many of your fears and uncertainties.

Questions to ask - woman pregnant during coronavirus

Set up your Virtual Support Network

In normal times, families and friends visit you after a baby is born. They may even stay overnight to let you take a shower or grab a nap while they snuggle your baby.

And while Grandma can’t stay over during a pandemic, it doesn’t mean that you can’t receive support and make memories with your extended family and friends.

KZOOKIDS staff member Amy, 8 months pregnant, shares:

It’s vital for me to have a support team that includes family, friends, healthcare providers and community groups. And while I won’t have the baby celebrations or birthing experience I envisioned, I’ve found alternatives, including a virtual baby shower and online communities. I’ve found great comfort through these varied support teams throughout my pregnancy.

Fortunately, we live in a time when there is no shortage of social media or group chat options. While pregnant, now is the time to set up Grandpa on Facebook or find your second cousin on Instagram.

You can even practice with pre-baby Zoom calls or pregnancy photo sharing. Everyone could use additional connections now, and this avoids playing IT helpdesk after having the baby.

Pack your Hospital Bag with Essentials Only

Packing for the hospital during a pandemic requires a new strategy — pack light and pack disposable.

Try not to pack things you won’t use and pack as many disposable items as possible. Here are a few strategies you might want to use:

  • Don’t bring a suitcase. You don’t want your travel bags sitting on a hospital floor. Use disposable bags if possible.
  • Separate worn clothes from clean ones. When you change at the hospital, keep your worn clothes in a separate (disposable) bag to go home.
  • Bring your infant car seat in a garbage bag. This keeps it covered during your hospital stay. When it’s time to go, toss the bag on your way out.
  • Bring disposable toiletries. Carry in soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc. from home and plan to discard them before you leave.
  • Have a box or plastic tub in your trunk for your items from the hospital. Put your bags of dirty clothes into the box/tub so they don’t risk leaving germs in your car until you have a chance to wash them.
  • Keep a spare pair of clean shoes in your car and swap them when you leave. You can add the dirty shoes to the tub/box in your trunk.

Help for After Baby is Born

With your virtual support network already in place, you are ready to share your baby with friends and family.

However, having a newborn at home makes simple tasks like buying groceries more challenging– especially during a pandemic.

Use this list of tips for managing this time and to help keep your household running smoothly.

Pregnancy and newborn sleeping

Feeding Your New Family

Shopping and a newborn do not go together. Take grocery shopping off of your list by using delivery services or curbside pickup.

Both Shipt and Instacart offer no contact deliveries so you can let the groceries sit on the porch for a minute if you need to finish a diaper change before bringing the food inside.

Even with a fridge full of groceries, cooking a meal can be daunting with a newborn. Take a night off and order delivery or carryout from a local restaurant.

The Burger Bros 1

Let other people cook for you. When friends offer (and hopefully they will), say yes to a mealtrain. This free website allows friends and family to sign up to drop off meals on your porch.  You can even leave a cooler on the porch to collect freezer meals.

Have baby supplies delivered. Even without a pandemic, buying diapers, wipes and other baby supplies is a hassle.

Target, Sam’s Club, Amazon and many others offer subscriptions (that can be changed at any time) to deliver baby products.

I vowed to never again lug a giant box of diapers around the store once I discovered Amazon Subscribe and Save.

There’s One of Me and So Many of Them

If you have older children at home too, we have a few suggestions (okay, over 250 Boredom Buster Ideas) that will help kids of all ages and interests with fun at-home activities.

Many moms struggle with keeping a toddler occupied while breastfeeding a newborn. We love the idea of busy boxes for the older sibling.

Newborn and Sibling Pregnancy during COVID 19

Share Your Story

Are you pregnant now? Did you just have a baby?  We’d love to hear your story or tips for other mamas to use during these times! Please comment below with your experiences.

COVID-19 Resources – Table of Contents

Where to Buy Masks, Locally
Where to Buy Local Beef, Produce, Milk
Supporting Your Child
Bringing Groceries Into Your Home
Grocery Shopping Hours
GR Coronavirus Resources Page
Pregnancy During COVID Q&A
How Far Should You Drive?
Remote Learning Tips
COVID-19 Time Capsule
Kid Birthdays During the Shutdown
250+ Boredom Busters
At-Home Date Night Ideas
Michigan Armchair Travel Guide
Neighborhood Ideas

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