INside Story

What to expect when pregnant during a pandemic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – While more of society is now maskless and vaccination rates are increasing, COVID variants are surging. Hospitals, OBGYN offices and medical facilities still have virus restrictions, meaning having a baby now looks very different than it did before the pandemic.

Olivia Lindley lives in Indianapolis. She and her husband, Stephen, just had their baby, Lucy, in May. Now, Olivia is navigating the new world of being a new mom.

“I think there’s a lot of things moms will still have to think about,” said Olivia.

At top of mind are COVID-19 risks that still exist.

Olivia Lindley and her baby. (WISH Photo)

“From being pregnant to delivering, to after, I think that there are just so many different aspects of life you have to think about now,” said Olivia.

Doctors like Kelly Robrock, MD with Axia Women’s Health OB/GYN of Indiana are helping women through the hard moments.

“There was a lot of fear surrounding pregnancy,” said Dr. Robrock.

She said even as society opens up, women should expect some restrictions and changes at medical facilities. Masks are required and most hospital tours are virtual.

“We have definitely adapted to the pandemic and so, a lot of things have become virtual. So, there are virtual hospital tours,” said Dr. Robrock.

When it comes to delivery and appointments, visitors are limited and restrictions depend on specific medical facilities, which includes different restrictions for IU Health, Ascension St. Vincent and Eskenazi Health.

“We are allowing patients to bring a support person to ultrasound appointments, which we weren’t able to do in the past. And really it comes down to the safety of our providers and the safety of our patients,” said Dr. Robrock. “So, telehealth has become an important part of our care of our patients. In addition to telehealth, we have a new app available to our pregnant patients called baby scripts.”

And when it comes to safety steps recommended for pregnant patients, doctors and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are encouraging women to get vaccinated.

“Our pregnant patients are more likely to end up with severe disease, respiratory illness. More likely to need respiratory support. We have seen a link between preterm birth and women who have contracted COVID during their pregnancies,” said Dr. Robrock.

She said the risk of getting COVID-19 far outweighs any risk from a vaccine. Plus, studies show antibodies can help babies before birth.

“No risks to the babies, no absolutely not. Our short-term data studies are wonderful with regards to safety for both our pregnancy and lactating moms. Recent studies have demonstrated babies actually making antibodies in moms who have gotten the COVID vaccine in their third trimester, which is great. Baby comes out with an extra layer of protection,” said Dr. Robrock.

Still, the decision is in pregnant women’s hands and can be very difficult. 

Olivia Lindley and WISH-TV reporter Hanna Mordoh. (WISH Photo)

“Getting the vaccine was beneficial to both me and Lucy. But that was the hardest decision we had to make,” said Olivia.

Along with difficult choices, pregnant women should expect more nerve-wracking moments due to COVID.

“When we went to the hospital for delivery, even though I was fully vaccinated, I still had to be tested for COVID,” said Olivia. “So, it kind of put this little piece of what if? In the back of my mind. Oh my goodness, what happens if I do have COVID and I deliver this baby and she has COVID?”

Thankfully, both Olivia and Lucy did not have the virus.

Along with keeping babies safe, doctors said women should think about themselves, too.

“Really identifying those key people you feel like you can call. And feel comfortable with them either coming over to your house or feel comfortable with sharing how you are feeling emotionally,” said Dr. Robrock. “A good core support group to help combat isolation from COVID-19 and postpartum depression and anxiety.”

It’s a worry that still exists for new moms, even as the world gets a little safer.

“So many different pieces to the pandemic along with just being a mom in general. Yeah, it’s hard, it’s really hard,” said Olivia.

This is the second story in a series we’re calling “INside Story.” The rest of Hanna’s stories looking into the impact COVID-19 has had on pregnant women, new moms and their babies, even as the world begins to reopen will air each morning this week on News 8.