Many expectant parents feel like they’re on a collision course with the coronavirus. In the name of social distancing, baby showers are being canceled and new family visitor restrictions are being implemented at hospitals.
Despite these changes, one thing remains the same. Babies don’t stop for anything.
Dr. Laura Ramsay, an OB-GYN at Novant Health WomanCare in Winston-Salem and Kernersville, shares advice for these moms and what the hospitals are doing to prepare.
The need to pivot
Ramsay is accustomed to stressful situations. Before joining Novant Health, she served in the Navy, stationed at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. (There’s a lot more on the base than just the detention camp for alleged unlawful combatants.)
“While I was there we had the first shark bite in the history of the base,” she said. “As an ob-gyn and one of only three surgeons on base, I had to be able to switch from my normal training to help handle that emergency.”
And while they were still dealing with the shark bite, an explosion went off in the hospital, Ramsay said, causing a water main break and flooding the first floor of the hospital. “It was literally all hands on deck as we raced in to move patients and equipment to safety.”
Ramsay says the secret to dealing with emergency situations is being able to pivot.
“And that’s exactly what we’re doing today,” she said. “We will get to the other side of coronavirus, but in the meantime, we will continue to take care of our patients and deliver babies.”
Novant Health WomanCare recently extended their appointment times so that providers can spend more time with patients to answer questions and provide reassurance.
Ramsay said pregnant women want to know if they are at risk of contracting coronavirus and what it means for the pregnancy and delivery.
“Pregnant women are at an increased risk of getting general illnesses because their immune system is focused on the pregnancy,” she said. “But the good news is that COVID-19 doesn’t appear to be any more of an increased risk for patients than say, getting the flu.”
Novant Health has also implemented new safety precautions in the clinic and visitor restrictions at the hospital. There are also options for virtual appointments that allow you to connect with a provider from home. The goal: Healthy mom, healthy baby.
But if a pregnant mom does contract COVID-19 when it comes time to deliver, Ramsay said the process won’t look that much different.
“They might feel ill while they’re giving birth,” she said, “but most cases are mild, and it’ll feel much like having a cold.”
Business as usual
Despite everything going on in the world now, Ramsay says the best part of her job is still happening.
“It’s business as usual for us,” she said. “And we are doing our best to create an environment that will insulate new parents from all of the drama that is going on around us.”
“We’ve got to protect those best first moments for families,” she added. “Mom’s first hug and the tear in dad’s eye. All of those moments are still happening.”
The only thing that is different for new parents is the visitor restrictions placed on families.
“New moms after they have a baby may feel isolated,” said Ramsay. “We encourage them to make video calls with family members and to know that we will still support them and celebrate alongside them here at Novant Health.”
One example of that can be found in the pink scrubs-wearing lactation consultants. Fewer visitors at the hospital have allowed moms to have more time to learn how to breastfeed.
“And if mom needs extra help after she leaves the hospital,” said Ramsay, “We’re always available.”
Moms can acess virtual help with online lactation consult appointments and the Baby Café program. Baby Café USA is a national organization that offers free breastfeeding support and other resources to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
Whether you are pregnant, hoping to become pregnant, or in need of an annual checkup or help with a gynecologic issue, WomanCare is here for you.