Pregnant women adapt to changes as they navigate a pandemic

SEATTLE -- Pregnant women during these times are dealing with a lot of anxiety as they try to maneuver a pandemic.

Lindsay Kapek is just weeks away from giving birth to her second child, a baby boy.

On Tuesday from home, Kapek shared a special moment with Q13 News, the sound of her baby’s heart. That sign of life always bringing a smile and for a moment she can forget all the worries ahead.

“All pregnant women are making big decisions,” Kapek said.

The mental gymnastics on how to keep a newborn safe during a pandemic is both exhausting and scary.

“Because we know their immune system is so tiny,” Kapek said.

Kapek, a middle school teacher, is working from home and also limiting time outside to keep her unborn baby safe.

“It will be a bit before a lot of people meet him,” Kapek said.

Kapek says despite all the uncertainties, all the planning and advice from her doctor at UW Medicine is keeping her calm.

“I’ve felt safe at every visit,” Kapek said.

Some visits have to be in person but Kapek’s doctor Sue Moreni says many checkups are now done virtually to limit everyone’s exposure.

“We were really implementing this prior to COVID-19 but COVID has really accelerated this telehealth capability,” Dr. Moreni said.

Every hospital has different policies. At UW Medicine OBGYN, they are currently allowing pregnant women to bring people with them for prenatal checkups.

Also during the birth process, one other person can be there with the pregnant woman.

Dr. Moreni says every family should also have a plan in place in case the mother giving birth tests positive for COVID-19.

“What plan can we formulate together with a patient in terms of separation of the baby,” Moreni said.

In some cases, a newborn may have to be separated from the mom if she tests positive for the virus. But Dr. Moreni says they have not had many situations like that happen.

“I would say that we have concerns in babies in the newborn period than we do in later age babies and children so the critical time is protecting that newborn right after birth,” Dr. Moreni said.

Researchers are looking into whether there can be a utero transfer of the virus from the mother to the unborn baby. So far studies are inconclusive.

More data is needed to get a better picture but Dr. Moreni says overall birth outcomes during the pandemic have been good so far.

UW Medicine says they are giving pregnant women fetal dopplers to check on heartbeats at home and also blood pressure monitors. Kapek says those tools are helping with the anxiety.

“It’s really nice to be able to check,” Kapek said.