Despite the gloom of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the associated closings and restrictions, there’s still joy to be found in this community and others. Flowers are still blooming this spring. Birds are still singing. And babies are still being born.
Athens residents Lindsay Endick and her husband Cody, for example, welcomed newborn Cora into the world on April 22 at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital. Endick told The NEWS this week that having a baby during the pandemic does present some challenges, but one or two silver linings as well.
The hardest part so far, Endick said, has been not being able to have family and friends come over to see newborn Cora, in order to protect the health of both baby and mother.
“We were trying to be extra careful especially because we were in a hospital and we didn’t know if we had picked anything up,” she explained. “So they quarantined us for two weeks. My parents met her through a door, although once the two weeks were over, I let her grandparents come and meet her and hold her.”
Still, her extended family hasn’t had a chance to meet Cora in person, Endick said, partly because some of those family members are nurses with a greater chance of being exposed to the coronavirus on a daily basis.
Another challenge is balancing having her whole family home (she and Cody also have a 3-year old named Jovi) while she continues to work from home as a fourth-grade teacher at Coolville Elementary. Still, that challenge also presents a bit of a blessing in disguise for Endick.
“Being at home has been nice, it’s kind of made us slow down a little bit as a family,” she said. “…When we came home with our first-born, there were lots of people that wanted to come and visit. It’s kind of nice for us to come home and get our routine together (first). We have a dog, so get the dog acclimated to the our new baby, get our 3-year-old acclimated.”
While Endick said she felt the hospital experience might be made a bit harder for first-time moms during the pandemic due to new protective procedures in place, she said she had a great experience at O’Bleness Hospital.
ENDICK’S DOCTOR, LUCY Bucher, medical director of women’s health at OhioHealth O’Bleness, outlined some of those changes in an interview last week. One of the big changes involves OhioHealth’s visitor policy. Only one visitor is allowed for the duration of a pregnant patient’s admission for delivery of a baby, and that visitor is not allowed to leave the room during the process. Any other hospital patients are not allowed visitors.
“I think most people have adapted to that well,” Bucher said. “In addition to all of the other things that have been hospital-wide, universal mask-wearing for all of our patients and staff and visitors is happening. People are getting temperature checks at the door, and anybody with a fever is not allowed in as a visitor.”
For Endick, the visitor-limitation policy wasn’t a problem because, she noted, she’s been through the process before with her first-born. In terms of other changes, she said she liked that she had a single nurse she worked with for much of her prenatal care and procedures, a measure meant to cut down on a pregnant patient’s interactions with multiple people.
Bucher said that another positive is that telemedicine is being utilized in a big way for prenatal care, with video and phone calls helping to cut down on a patient’s visits at the physical hospital.
In terms of risk factors for pregnant women, Bucher said that the initial evidence so far suggests that pregnancy in of itself is not a separate risk factor for getting seriously ill from the coronavirus, but, still, it’s better to be safe than sorry (a lot of information remains unknown about the coronavirus). Plus, plenty of other infectious diseases such as influenza remain serious worries for pregnant patients, she said.
“Our recommendations for pregnant women in terms of social distancing guidelines aren’t any different for them,” Bucher said. “Just limit time outside in public spaces. Stay six feet apart when you have to be out, and stay at home (otherwise).”
Bucher said that the main negative her pregnant patients must face during the pandemic is the need to limit their social interactions during a time in their life when they often would want to be “relying on a lot of family and friends.”
“They feel like you can’t open your house to other people,” she said. “That’s been really difficult for people.”
Endick said she feels for first-time moms, especially the new mothers who will miss out on some joyful experiences involving social interactions before and after having their baby.
But she said the biggest thing to remember is that reducing those interactions will help protect those women and their babies.
“It’s a crazy time to have a baby, but it also is a nice time to have a baby because you’re allowed to slow down, if your job allows it,” she said.