Regular Maternal Health Check-Ups OK During Pandemic
October 1, 2020
Moms-to-be shouldn’t fear their regular maternal in-person check-ups during the pandemic, said researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
Physicians and other healthcare professionals who kept their offices and clinics open saw a drop in routine visits from many of their patients. However, women who are pregnant should undergo regular maternal check-ups. These track the baby’s progress and the mother’s health, particularly for issues like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
Women may, understandably, be concerned about COVID-19 exposure. If the infection is serious enough, it can cause viral sepsis, which could put both mother and baby in danger. But adhering to the recommended safety protocols (washing hands, wearing a mask, and social distancing), greatly reduces the infection risk during antenatal (before birth) check-ups.
The World Health Organization recommends that all pregnant women have at least 4 routine antenatal visits to a physician or midwife: once each during the first trimester (before 4 months) and the second trimester (at 6 months), and then once each in the 8th and 9th month. Women in the United States usually have more frequent check-ups. According to the Office on Women’s Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, pregnant women should have check-ups:
- Once each month for weeks 4 through 28
- Twice a month for weeks 28 through 36
- Weekly for weeks 36 to birth
The researchers gathered information on almost 3,000 deliveries that occurred in the Boston area from mid-April 2020 to the end of June. They also looked at the number of in-person appointments the mother attended within the two weeks before delivery. All the patients underwent testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The results showed that 111 women tested positive for the virus; 45 before birth and 66 when they were admitted to the hospital to give birth. The researchers determined that given the number of women in the study and the low positive infection rate, “There was no meaningful association between the number of in-person health care visits and the rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection in this sample of obstetrical patients in the Boston area.”
This suggests that in-person health care visits “were not likely to be an important risk factor for infection and that necessary, in-person care can be safely performed.”