Preserving Joyful Obstetrics Experiences During a Pandemic

Balancing Safety and Beautiful Memories

Pregnancy and childbirth certainly won’t wait for the pandemic to pass so obstetrics programs have much to consider to preserve the joyful childbirth experience for expectant parents while responding to the threat of a highly contagious virus.  The balance between normal operations and an abnormal time is important for each family and the reputation of the healthcare providers.  

Here we review a variety of opportunities to maintain a delightful and memorable pregnancy experience while respecting the new pandemic pressures.  

Limiting Possible Virus Exposure

Of course, pre-natal care is crucial however during the pandemic limited in-person visits can help limit virus exposure. Healthcare providers had to quickly adapt their procedures to offer obstetrics telemedicine visits and prepare the staff to master this type of care which was typically only offered for rural locations. 

In addition to  offering telemedicine visits, creating comprehensive lists of ways expectant parents can stay healthy and maintain a healthy pregnancy is another important practice. 

An example of a well-designed list of resources can be found at University of Michigan Prenatal Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Here we review a variety of opportunities to maintain a delightful and memorable pregnancy experience while respecting the new pandemic pressures.

Protecting Pregnancy Perks

Sharing the joy of pregnancy and delivery is a huge part of the experience and preserving the ability to share the experience while being safe is an important consideration for obstetrics providers. 

Although there may be a desire to limit access to the labor and delivery floor, strive to always allow each laboring mother to have their spouse or partner to participate with her. The loneliness and fear of going through labor all alone with competent clinicians who are still strangers should be avoided whenever possible.   

Since extended family are likely not to be allowed in hospital settings, making sure that there are easy ways for the expectant parents to stay connected to family during labor and delivery is an important perk. 

Setting up unlimited zoom accounts or facetime options so the parents don’t have to worry about bringing their own laptop or tablets would be a great perk. Also since there’s so much excitement and anticipation tied to getting the first glimpse of the new baby for many families, consider ways newborns can be “on display” near an exterior window were loved ones can see the newest family member in person.  

Since the typical stream of loved ones visiting with balloons and flowers is restricted during the pandemic, health systems should consider ways to fill that gap possibly with hospital-sponsored gifts from the hospital gift shop. This might be a great pandemic project for volunteers.  

Support the Benefits of Staying Home and Dangers of Isolation

There are some unexpected benefits for pregnant women during the pandemic. For those who have been allowed to work from home, they have an easier time dealing with morning sickness in the privacy of their homes, they haven’t had to purchase extra maternity clothes for work and they have more opportunities for rest with no commute or travel. 

Obstetric programs should make these benefits clear to expectant moms to help counteract the negative issues that can come up with being isolated for nine months. One of the most common dangers is having the fear of the virus impact the mother’s stress levels which can contribute to poor nutrition and sleep habits.

Also, being isolated from being able to share concerns and tips with other pregnant women can be easily fixed when healthcare providers offer information on online or tele-health support groups.  

Protecting Access to Information.

Since pre-natal visits, pregnancy classes and facility tours are limited, obstetrics programs should check to see how well-rounded the access to information is for expectant parents. If possible, strengthen the depth and breadth of content for pregnant women is on the website, create a MOM’S only phone line to a live nurse or voicemail box with guaranteed 24-hour response time, send out important health information by mail all along the pregnancy to over-communicate important guidelines. Experienced obstetric clinicians can easily anticipate the biggest concerns or mistakes of first-time expectant parents and the pandemic is a perfect time to apply this knowledge and make guidance available through multiple channels since in-person visits will be limited.  


Childbirth can be the happiest or saddest of times for families. The excitement and happy moments scattered over a 40-week pregnancy are now laced with fear during the pandemic since the typical experience is not so typical and fears over what exposure to the virus could mean for the baby and mother. Pregnant women are a high-risk group for the virus so altering policies and procedures for their safety is a requirement. While safety precautions are top priority, taking the time to preserve the joyful moments of this journey whenever possible is another priority to consider to lessen mother stress and continue the tradition of cherished memories.

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Diane S. Hopkins

Senior Leader Healthcare Practice for Extens Consulting

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