Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. Wonderful as it is, any mother or mother-to-be knows the apprehension that comes with having a baby: concerns about the child’s well-being in the womb; giving birth; the possibility of complications. Now add a pandemic that disrupts life as we know it – changes in prenatal and birth care policies, concerns of contracting COVID-19, the unknowns of passing something along to your baby and more. But moms are strong, and good doctors remain good doctors – amid the apprehension of this new reality, babies still need to be born.
Miranda Livermore, already a mother of three daughters, had triplet sons on the way when COVID-19 changed the world. She had been pregnant with her first child in Washington state in 2009 when the swine flu affected many pregnant women in that area. Coupled with being a nurse and already going through atypical Kawasaki disease with one of her daughters, Livermore was understandably concerned. She left her job out of an abundance of caution for the triplets’ health.
“When we heard about the first case of COVID-19 in the United States, I asked my doctor and she said no one had ever asked her about it. People here weren’t thinking it would spread here,” Livermore explained.
As time continued, more regulations concerning the virus were put into place as the threat was realized locally. Per new practice policies, Livermore’s husband, Art, was not able to join her for doctor appointments, but he was hopeful to be present for the triplets’ birth.
“Our doctor was amazing. He kept us as informed as he could. He told us, ‘We’re going to be prepared for the best, but be realistic. Being pregnant with multiples in the middle of a pandemic, we have no clue what we’re walking into.’ It was a big concern of mine to be in an operating room or have a c-section by myself, and you already know that multiples are likely going to the NICU – that’s scary in itself,” Livermore said.
Luckily, neither parent tested positive, and Art was able to be present when the boys were born in April. After more than three weeks in the NICU, they came home healthy.
Livermore’s advice for expecting mothers during the pandemic is to remember that the information and precautionary measures can change: “It’s new for everybody. Just learn to roll with it, and use the best information you have to make the best decision that’s safest for everyone.”
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, M.D., of Charleston OB/GYN, did not treat Livermore but echoed her precautions.
“The information regarding COVID-19 is minimal, and most doctors are acting on recommendations from the CDC. As more is learned about the virus, protocols may change,” she explained. “We want to ensure expecting moms are getting the appropriate care they need. Depending on the provider, we see moms on a regular basis, and, if we think she is OK to extend the next visit for a week or two – and if that’s OK with the mom and her health care team – then we can do that.”
Based on CDC guidance at the time this article was written, Dr. Richardson shared some changes that her office – and many others – have adapted to.
“We have been screening patients, asking all women if they’ve come into contact with the virus or have been exposed or if they have traveled recently. And we screen some of the known symptoms of COVID-19. Depending on their answers, we may reschedule them to protect others,” she said.
Patients are sometimes asked to wait in their car to minimize risk of exposure. Some practices are not allowing support people in the office, but, in certain situations such as milestone ultrasounds or difficult scenarios, other practices permit a support person to be present.
Since the boys came home, the Livermore family has remained cautious by entertaining themselves at home, having groceries delivered and opting for virtual learning for their daughters. Though her mother self-quarantined before the births and stayed for about two months to help the family of eight, Livermore wishes she could have more assistance.
“When you find out you’re having triplets, you think, ‘It’s going to be hard, but this infant stage is fast. We’ve got family and friends to help us get through it.’ Now that there’s a pandemic, I feel like I have missed out on a big part of having triplets; we have friends, family and people from church who want to come help us out, even just to rock them, but they can’t because of the virus.”
But Livermore has a positive attitude and looks forward to the future: “It’s not worth the risk for us, so we are doing what’s best for them, but I can’t wait to show them off – these babies are cute!”
By Anne Toole