What to Expect When You’re Expecting (During a Pandemic)

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When you were thinking about planning your family, it’s safe to say that a global pandemic wasn’t anywhere on your radar. Whether you’re pregnant or considering it, you probably have a ton of questions about how to have a safe pregnancy, labor, and delivery during Coronavirus.

We partnered with Allegheny Health Network to get some answers from Dr. Marcia Klein-Patel, chair of the AHN Women’s Institute and OB-GYN at AHN Jefferson.

AHN Jefferson is the first hospital in Pittsburgh to be awarded the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® in Perinatal Care and the only midwifery program in the South Hills. This location is perfect for parents and parents-to-be who want the high-quality, expert care associated with Allegheny Health Network in a convenient location south of the city.

See why AHN Jefferson is a great option for your labor and delivery and what Dr. Klein-Patel has to say. Plus, hear firsthand from a mom who recently gave birth there. 

HOW DO I HAVE A SAFE PREGNANCY DURING CORONAVIRUS?

There are some things you’ll do regardless of Coronavirus: Get regular prenatal care, take 400mg of folic acid, and talk to your health care provider about how to stay healthy.

Reducing your risk of Coronavirus is especially important because pregnant people have an increased risk of severe illness from it. Frequent handwashing, social distancing, and wearing a mask in public are all ways to reduce your risk.

As a health care provider, as soon as AHN Jefferson recognized how far-reaching Coronavirus was becoming in March 2020, we immediately did everything we could think of to keep our patients safe. We huddled internally, talked with our colleagues at Johns Hopkins, and ended up rewriting every single process and protocol.

The whole point of prenatal care is to keep moms and babies safe. That’s why we flipped to a hybrid model of care recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG).

We offer a blend of in-person and telemedicine prenatal appointments at a cadence designed to keep you safe. So far, we’ve done almost 10,000 telemedicine appointments. Telemedicine appointments have gone so well we’d like to see them be part of routine care when we’re on the other side of the pandemic. We’ve also worked with insurance companies to get them to cover blood pressure cuffs for home use.

WHO CAN BE AT THE HOSPITAL WITH ME DURING MY LABOR?

We know how important it is for you to have the support and comfort of someone you trust during labor. You may have one support person with you during your labor and delivery. This may be your partner, doula, family member, or friend. We highly encourage your support person to stay with you the entire time you’re at the hospital and limit going in and out.

CAN MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS VISIT AFTER MY BABY IS BORN?

I know you probably imagined yourself surrounded by loved ones after giving birth, but currently the visitation protocol is one support person or visitor over the age of 18 per patient. For safety reasons, you cannot switch visitors.

HOW LONG WILL I BE IN THE HOSPITAL AFTER GIVING BIRTH?

At AHN Jefferson, our goal is to get you and your new baby home as soon as possible. If everything goes well, you’ll probably be discharged from the hospital two days after a vaginal birth and three days after a cesarean section.

WHAT IS GIVING BIRTH DURING CORONAVIRUS REALLY LIKE?

Ashley Coulter, 25, was expecting her third child when Coronavirus hit. “I found out I was pregnant in December 2019 and had normal prenatal care with Dr. Andrew Spergel until COVID-19 hit.”

Once quarantine measures were in place, Ashley had a mix of telehealth prenatal appointments and in-person visits. “I had a blood pressure cuff at home and was able to do some appointments at home. My doctor was very understanding of my situation — I have kids at home and sometimes it was noisy.”

While telehealth is a convenient and safer option for pregnant people, the downside for Ashley was that she didn’t get to hear her daughter’s heartbeat as much as she normally would have in non-pandemic times. Plus, her partner wasn’t able to come to her appointments because of the safety procedures in place.

“It was hard at first,” she said. “You want to experience everything with your significant other, but he wasn’t able to be at my in-person appointments.”

Though there were a lot of unknowns during Coronavirus, Ashley knew exactly what to expect when it came time to deliver Ava, her baby. “I had a scheduled C-section, which was nice to know ahead of time.”

When Ashley and her partner arrived at AHN Jefferson, health care staff took their temperatures before they went to the labor and delivery unit at the Women and Infants Center. They both wore masks before and during her C-section.

What made a huge difference for her delivery was her care team. “Dr. Spergel was really nice and made the whole experience better,” Ashley said.

“And Amanda Shafton, a certified nurse-midwife at Jefferson, was a godsend. She made things so much easier. Our families weren’t allowed to visit in the hospital, but she took pictures of us that we could share with our families instead. It meant a lot.”

Because visitors weren’t allowed when Amanda was at AHN Jefferson, it gave her and her partner more time to bond with Ava. She was also able to get home to the rest of her family sooner. “I had Ava on a Thursday and was home by Saturday.”

Ashley had a few words of advice for anyone who’s pregnant and delivering during the pandemic: “Be prepared ahead of time and know that it’s going to be different.”

While some things are a little different because of Coronavirus, you can always depend on the Women and Infants Center at AHN Jefferson for the type of advanced care you might have only thought possible at a city hospital. That means on-site obstetricians, anesthesiologists, midwives, and neonatal nurses. Plus, a Level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) if you deliver prematurely or have a baby with special medical needs.

Want to know more about what to expect at AHN Jefferson on the big day? Get more details here.


 

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