What's it like having a baby during a pandemic?
After Claire Hart’s first son was born six and a half weeks early – and spent three weeks in the NICU – all she and her husband were hoping for with the birth of their second son was a “normal” hospital experience. But then the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
By all accounts, their second son, Charlie, would make it to full term, and Claire would get the normal birthing experience she had wanted, but the coronavirus changed everything. What was a fairly normal pregnancy was stressful enough, but add in a global pandemic, and Claire’s fear and anxiety quickly ramped up.
“We spent a lot of time preparing for and expecting a ‘normal’ experience, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. Since our older son spent time in the NICU, I had a lot of anxiety going into the second pregnancy anyway, and when the pandemic started, the anxiety got worse because I thought all of our plans had to change,” Claire said.
However, Claire’s team at the UK Birthing Center, including Dr. Bryan Rone, board certified OB-GYN, and nurse Halle Cottrell, were very reassuring that everything with the birth would go ahead safely and as normal could be.
“Dr. Rone and Halle did a phenomenal job accommodating my needs. They were both very reassuring. They were there every step of the way and were always there to listen, even if we just needed some comfort and reassurance,” Claire said.
The team was quick to implement new safety precautions and began performing Claire’s last few check-ups prior to the birth via telecare.
“For us – in OB – we were planning on doing [telecare] anyway and already had a pilot plan set up, so we just escalated that and got it going very quickly. We’re able to provide equipment for our patients to take home, like a blood pressure test, fetal doppler and scale, in order to get the important data for our low risk group. And for those who still need or want to come to the clinic, we are still able and want to see patients in person,” Dr. Rone said.
When it came time for Charlie’s birth, everything went as planned, and though extended family weren’t able to visit, it was a special time for Claire and her husband, Matt. Charlie was a healthy 8 lbs, 4 oz., and everyone went home happy and healthy.
“Even though UK has implemented some much-needed visitor restrictions, we’ve been able to include family so that no one feels isolated. We want family to feel like they’re part of the process,” said Dr. Rone.
“We weren’t able to bring other family members to the hospital, but my husband was there, and I really appreciated that the restrictions also meant that there were fewer hospital visitors in general, making distancing easier,” Claire said.
“This moment – having a baby – you don’t get it back, and we want it to still feel as special as it should be,” Dr. Rone said.
Postnatal care from the comfort of home
Thanks to UK TeleCare, Claire’s postnatal care was taken care of from the comfort of her home. Dr. Rone and his team chatted with Claire on the phone and set up a safe, secure virtual appointment through Zoom – providing the same level of expert care as a normal, in-person visit to the clinic.
Dr. Rone also shared that other childbirth education classes are also available virtually: “Our education classes have also been virtualized over the last month. Most of the offerings that were available in-person are now being offered over video conferencing. We’re working hard to make sure that all of the options that were available before are still available.”
Thus far, everything has gone smoothly, with Claire and Charlie only venturing out for an appointment with the pediatrician. And while Claire didn’t get the “normal” experience she had hoped for, she’s extremely thankful for the proactive measures and reassurance of the Birthing Center, and grateful for the safety and ease of UK TeleCare.
“I just wanted a regular birth experience, and while the pandemic made things a little different, everything felt quiet and normal. It was a really wonderful experience overall. We’re very grateful to Dr. Rone, Halle and the rest of the team for making us feel safe and secure in such a crazy time.”