Expecting Mothers During A Pandemic

Apr 17, 2020


The coronavirus doesn't discriminate and can spread to anyone. Including pregnant mothers like Vanessa Hoene.

"It did change the day-to-day for sure," Vanessa Hoene said. Hoene was sailing on with regular appointments and check-ups until COVID-19 came to Wyoming. At about seven months along, Hoene is looking forward to her first child. And while she has been working from home for a few years now, social distancing is still complicated for her.

"My husband is an emergency room doctor," said Hoene. "So he is on the front lines and coming home every night. And it took us a lot of thought as to how we were going to protect me."

They have a whole strategy. First, they sleep separately—he goes to the basement, and she goes to their bedroom upstairs. They also use different doors when coming and going from the house.

"And I cook him all the meals and everything so that he doesn't have to touch many surfaces," she said.

That's not the only way things look different for them. Her husband is missing out on the pregnancy. Hoene said, "He's been under a lot of stress with work. And then our physical distance, of course. Also, he's not feeling any of the kicks. So [...] it's certainly creating both of a mental and physical barrier. He's a little disconnected, more so than he would have been"

Her appointments have also look different now. For one, she's no longer going in for in-person check-ups with her obstetrician. Instead, she's having telehealth appointments and gets regular check-in calls. By not going to see her obstetrician in person, it's keeping her safe from COVID-19. This doesn't alleviate some of her worries though.

"During pregnancy," she said, "especially for first-time moms, which I am, you just have no idea. Like, 'am I the right size? Am I growing? Am I eating the right nutrition?'"

Hoene is due around July. And she still plans on delivering her child in the hospital. According to Dr. Samantha Herriott, that's still the best thing to do.

"The recommendation is still to have a hospital delivery. We're not encouraging home deliveries. We still think it's safer to be in the hospital in a controlled environment," Dr. Herriott said. The recommendation comes from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Dr. Herriott is an obstetrician at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie. She explained that the hospital has scaled down a lot of operations to ensure that it stays safe.

"We have been working on plans for protection of our patients and our staff from the coronavirus for probably the last two months," she said.

That means minimizing in-person visits and maximizing telehealth appointments. They've also changed a few other things. Dr. Herriott said, "If we have a suspected patient who could have a respiratory illness, we're using negative pressure in the room."

That keeps germs contained. Many patients have and are also looking for ways to alternate their timing of delivery.

"We've had several patients request induction of labor versus waiting for spontaneous labor. And that's really just an individualized decision," said Dr. Herriott. For the most part, patients have been choosing a typical hospital delivery. Dr. Herriott said that they've taken additional steps to try and make sure that anyone who comes to the hospital is as safe as possible.

"We're communicating with our medical providers in our community who maybe aren't working at Ivinson Memorial Hospital, but they're affiliated. So that way, the entire city of Laramie is on the same page as to how are we going to handle this," she said.

They are also taking temperatures of individuals who come into the hospital and are using different entrances and exits to decrease contact.

As for expectant mother Vanessa Hoene, she's hopeful for "a world back to normal," she said.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Naina Rao, at nbadarin@uwyo.edu.