Dr. Marie Grove, an OBGYN who cares for women at our VWC Midlothian and Short Pump locations is pregnant. We sat down with her to learn firsthand what it’s like to be pregnant during the pandemic and what precautions she takes to minimize the risk of COVID-19.
The Uncertainty is Unnerving
The novel coronavirus is just that—novel. We don’t know much about it. It’s still unclear how it affects pregnant women, and it’s unclear how it can affect your baby. This uncertainty is unnerving and something I didn’t have to worry about prior pregnancies.
We know that the overall risk of COVID-19 to pregnant women is low. However, those who have COVID-19 are at higher risk of developing respiratory complications. Pregnant women who are older, have a high body mass index (BMI), pre-existing diabetes or hypertension are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 challenges. Although much remains unknown as to whether or not the virus causes pregnancy issues or affects the health of the baby, preliminary research indicates that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more at risk for premature birth and their babies are more likely to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Take Advantage of Virtual Care
For low-risk pregnancies, virtual visits are a great care option for busy moms-to-be as they reduce virus exposure to the expecting mother and the unborn child. I work with all of my low-risk OB patients to customize their care plan by deciding which visits are suitable for virtual care and which ones require in-office care—physical examination, lab work, testing and ultrasounds, etc.
Tips to Remain COVID Free
As an OBGYN, it’s only a matter of time before I come into contact with a patient who is asymptomatic and then learns she has COVID, or with a patient whose symptoms are so mild that she doesn’t recognize them and passes our stringent health screening processes. To ensure I’m doing the very best for myself, my unborn child and my family I faithfully wash/sanitize my hands and wear a mask and eyewear while in the office. When I head home from work, I remove my shoes before entering the house, change clothes and shower before getting those much-loved hugs. I’ve also been really disciplined about social distancing. Even if that means I miss important family and friend events such as a wedding—for my protection and theirs.
COVID Risk During Delivery
Honestly, I find the hospital to be cleaner and less risky for contracting the virus than most public places given the mandatory mask-wearing and stringent cleaning protocols. I can’t be certain of the precautions other businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, are taking to minimize risk. And, even if these businesses are following all cleaning guidelines there are those shoppers who just don’t care or follow social distancing guidelines.
Have a Plan
We’ve already told extended family and loved ones that when the time comes, we will introduce our newest family member very cautiously. We were cautious introducing our other children, but with COVID we are taking extra cautionary measures to help ensure the safety of our newborn.
Although there are many uncertainties with COVID-19, there are also gifts. Many of my patients who have delivered during the pandemic have appreciated the alone time in the hospital—precious time to get to know their newborn without the well-meaning interruptions of family members and loved ones. And, because visitors are limited to a partner + a single support person, hospital staff are able to focus their time on the new mom and baby. Parents are getting more rest and support before heading home to navigate their new world.
Marie Grove, MD, practices at the Midlothian and Short Pump locations of Virginia Women’s Center. When she’s not caring for women she’s busy enjoying time with her husband and children, and preparing for the newest family member!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns