Pregnant in the pandemic: what to expect

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – One month ago, expectant mothers like Sara Thompson and Olivia Sanchez were filled with joy as they eagerly anticipated their April and May due dates.

Today, things are a bit different.

With U.S. coronavirus cases surging into the number one spot, things have changed a lot in the maternity world and both expectant mothers have been hit with a bout of fear.

Olivia Sanchez

Olivia Sanchez is nine months pregnant with her first child and is scheduled for a C-section on April 9th.

“I didn’t think that anything would affect my pregnancy like this,” Sanchez said. I have MS and type one diabetes so I’m already considered high risk.”

Sara Thompson

Thompson, who is due with her third child on May 20th, is trying not to get too caught up in fear.

“Being pregnant has been pretty nerve-racking. We’re trying to not give in to the fear and panic but at the same time, we have extra worries that we didn’t have before,” Thompson said. “It has totally changed our experience.”

Dr. Wolf, board-certified OBGYN said his staff at Emerald Coast OBGYN is taking extra precautions to protect all of their patients until the pandemic has passed.

“Every person that is coming into the office is being screened with a brief questionnaire and a temperature check and we are doing what we can telehealth,” Wolf said. “But with obstetrics, there are limitations and things we have to do in person.”

“We have to assess the baby, do ultrasounds, and check the mother’s blood pressure,” Wolf said. “If things get worse, we are considering ways of limiting visits even more, but we are not there yet.”

Thompson, who is scheduled for a routine visit Friday, was instructed by staff to come alone.

“They told me that I have to come alone and that if I had been out of the country, or feeling sick, or coughing, or running a fever, then they would have to reschedule,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s husband, Matt, said missing ultrasounds and check-ups is going to be hard.

“I like to be there for everything,” Matt said. “I want to hold her hand through the process and missing those appointments is a bummer, but I completely understand.”

Sara Thompson and family

Wolf said that most patients understand the restrictions but some have been complaining.

“We’ve had a few people get pretty upset that the father was not allowed to come in but most of our patients are awesome, and they totally understand,” Wolf said.

“We can put the dads on FaceTime and we have big-screen monitors,” Wolf said, “but for right now, only the patients can come in.”

With Sanchez in the final few weeks of her pregnancy, she is now going in for check-ups twice a week.

“I had an appointment last week and my husband was not allowed to come with me,” Sanchez said, “but I’ve heard that they will be allowed to come to the hospital with us.”

Wolf, who delivers at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center said that one other person will be able to come into the delivery room for the birth.

“As of right now, the only person that can come into the room is the person that has, what we call, a baby band,” Wolf said. “The mom that is giving birth can designate one other person to attend the birth and they are given the baby band.”

pregnant wife and husband
Zack and Olivia Sanchez

Sanchez said that she and her husband, Zack, will not be packing light.

“I was told that if my husband leaves the hospital anytime after I’m admitted, he will not be allowed to come back in,” Sanchez said.

With expectant mothers at a higher risk of contracting viruses like the flu, they are being advised by doctors to be just as precautious with the coronavirus.

“You can make some inference from previous things like SARS and influenza, and other viral infections, that they do effect pregnant women more than others,” Wolf said. “A pregnant patient who gets the flu has a tenth fold increase in the likelihood of having to be hospitalized.”

But, there is some good news. Dr. Wolf said that, currently, there has not been any proof of mothers transmitting the virus directly to the baby.

“That I know of, there have not been any documented cases of vertical transmission, where the mother transmits the virus to the baby,” Wolf Said. “Which would suggest that the placenta is doing its job.”

“We don’t have enough data yet, besides the data that is coming out of China and it all depends on how you interpret that,” Wolf said.

For now, Thompson and Sanchez are both doing what they can to stay protected and to stay positive during the remainder of their pregnancies.

“Our hands are cracking because we are washing them so much,” Matt said.

“The excitement level is down because you are constantly worried and being more cautious and it’s just a damper on a happy time,” Thompson said. “We have two other children and they won’t be able to come to the hospital and meet their brother. It’s just a totally different experience this time.”

Sanchez said she is holding onto her faith during this extraordinary time to help her stay strong.

“The best thing to do is pray. I’ve been through a lot in my life already, so I feel like I can handle this fine,” Sanchez said. “Hopefully, I can be an encouragement to somebody else that is due later than I am.”

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