Front-Line Diaries: What expectant parents can expect during a pandemic
OTTAWA -- “It’s been lots of talking,” Dr. Daisy Moores says with a smile when asked about navigating expectant parents’ expectations during a pandemic. “Lots of talking…”
Talking, and answering questions from anxious parents-to-be always features prominently in Dr. Moores’s work as division head of maternal and newborn care at the Ottawa Hospital. But now those questions have multiplied.
Stories from friends or family members about how things will unfold in the delivery room no longer apply. Now, suddenly everything is different.
“They want to know what the protocols are, how things are different in the hospital, how to keep themselves healthy, and how to keep their families safe and healthy.”
Dr. Moores says it’s essential to make sure they are aware of policies around masking and PPE, and visitor restrictions.
“None of it is surprising. And I think, like all of us, the more prepared we are, the more we know, the more comfortable the experience will be. So that’s been a very big thing this last number of months that all of us that work in maternity and newborn care at the hospital have been doing.”
Expectant moms will attend some of their doctor’s appointments without their partner. Ultrasounds are likely to be a solo experience. And they will be asked to wear a mask while giving birth.
“When we talk about reductionof infection spread, because we know there is asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 in the community, it is the same for anywhere in the hospital. We don’t do routine swabbing. So if everyone is masked it keeps everyone safe.”
And Dr. Moores says there have also been a lot of questions about keeping families safe outside the hospital. She very much advocates masking for all in any kind of enclosed setting and lots of handwashing.
“Many of our moms have been keeping very close to home as their due dates approach which is all very reasonable,” she says with a laugh. “And so making sure that people also understand how to then get out and how to get exercise and how to get fresh air.”
After the baby, there is a need for follow-up. Dr. Moores says that can be quite complicated too. Either the family’s physician’s office is closed or they have restricted access because of the pandemic response. Or perhaps someone in the family has COVID symptoms or has made contact with someone who does.
Those concerns prompted the opening of a mom and baby COVID-19 cliinic at the Ottawa Hospital.
It meant, in the early days of the pandemic, all moms and babies who needed any of the usual postpartum care could be treated there.
"We could do bloodwork there. We did a lot of feeding support. And they were cared for by staff wearing full PPE with cleaners who could do all the necessary housekeeping, and manage those potentially risky families in a way that a normal community-based clinic couldn’t do,” Dr. Moores says.
Now that the number of cases has dropped in the community, only families who have seen potential exposure are still treated through the clinic.
And while managing all of the health concerns for those anxious new families, Dr. Moores has also had to co-manage her own family. As with her patients, she’s amazed at their resiliency. She has a partner who has transitioned to working at home and taken over primary care of their 10-year-old twin boys, making the most of their partial lockdown experience.
“The boys have been great through all of this. We get outside and especially during the early part of the spring we did a lot of running, a lot of biking, a lot of walks, lots of card games. My kids are euchre sharks now, which is fun.”
She says just like everyone else has done, they’ve all made it work.
“I’ve been so impressed with the resiliency that we have seen both in our patients and in the community and in the care providers that I work with. Everyone has risen to just deal with this and take care of themselves and everyone else as best they can."