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  • Pregnant During Quarantine? Here Are Your Options For Prenatal Care

    Prenatal visits are vital to the health of the pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
    by Rachel Perez .
Pregnant During Quarantine? Here Are Your Options For Prenatal Care
PHOTO BY iStock
  • The entire Luzon is now under enhanced community quarantine until April 12, 2020, to further restrict the movement of people and stop the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Everyone is advised to stay home — and stay put — unless one needs to go out to buy essentials, medication, and other basic needs.

    The exemptions to the rule are our frontline health workers and authorized government officials. Medical and humanitarian travels and transport of basic necessities will continue, provided the personnel have proper identification and documentation. (Read the guidelines for enhanced community quarantine here.)

    What happens to prenatal visits during enhanced quarantine 

    Prenatal visits are vital to the health of the pregnant woman and her unborn baby. How often you go for prenatal visits depends on your pregnancy, how far along you are, and if you have, or at risk for, complications. But during this unprecented time, what can a pregnant woman do when social distancing is highly advised?

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    First, check with your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) if there is a change in the frequency of visits. Your doctor may schedule staggered patient appointments to allow social distancing in the clinic. 

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    “We recommend that they still go to their prenatal visits as advised by their ob-gyn,” Dr. Maynila Domingo, M.D., an ob-gyn whose subspecialty is maternal-fetal medicine, explained in a previous article in Smartparenting.com.ph

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    When going out, always remember to practice social distancing (at least one meter apart from other people) and frequent hand hygiene before touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Other than the recommended prenatal visits, pregnant women should stay home.

    One of the exemptions for strict home quarantine is travel for medical purposes that can’t be postponed. If you’re going out for an essential prenatal visit, make sure you bring with you proof of identification and a medical certificate (even a photo of it on your phone) that says you have a doctor’s appointment.

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    I am pregnant and do not have a car. What do I do? 

    This is tricky because mass public transportation is suspended. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut  answer. So far, based on the enhanced community quarantine guidelines, your local government unit (LGU) needs to provide assistance for travel.

    Pasig City, for example, uses its government-issued vehicles for its Libreng Sakay program and has allowed tricycles to ferry exempted individuals, such as health workers, to and from the hospitals. 

    For private car owners, you may be allowed to drive strictly to the doctors’ clinic and back home but may also be subject to checkpoints. Social distancing is also required inside your vehicles.

    We also recommend talking to your doctor and ask for the nearest clinic near your area. Ask for a referral for that clinic or hospital, especially if it will be difficult for you to leave your area.

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    Prenatal checkup at home: What can a pregnant woman do   

    Going to any hospital, whether disclosed to be treating COVID-19 patients or not, and doctor’s clinics may bring pregnant women closer to ill individuals seeking medical care. Upon advice and consultation with your ob-gyn, these are possible alternatives: 

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    Routine doppler checks 

    Cristalle Belo, currently in her third trimester, shared on Instagram stories on March 16, 2020, that she’s skipping her ultrasound appointment this week to avoid being in the hospital. With the help of her “nurse,” a.k.a. her husband Justin Pitt, they’re doing “just doppler readings three times a day to monitor her baby’s heartbeat,” the preggo mom shared. 

    Cristalle Belo is skipping an ultrasound to avoid going to the hospital and instead does routine doppler checks by husband, Justin Pitt.
    PHOTO BY screenshots from @cristallebelo/Instagram Stories
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    When she was pregnant, Karen Sanggalang Ayala of the Smart Parenting Mom Network admitted to getting ultrasounds three times a week to check on the baby in her tummy. A doppler at home was for her sanity. 

    However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions that at-home fetal dopplers should only be used by or under the supervision of a health care professional. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also stressed that dopplers are not necessary for home and personal use unless your doctor asks you to have one. Some doctors require it for certain high-risk pregnancies, but it should come with proper instruction and close supervision. (Read more about it here.)

    SP Mom Network members, Luisa Beltran Pua and Balot del Rosario, also wanted to use fetal dopplers during their pregnancies. But their doctors told them there was no need.

    “I wanted to buy one because of my APAS pregnancy and my OB advised against it because it may add more stress and anxiety, especially when you are not versed in using it,” said Balot.

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    “My doctor said just to check on the baby’s movement once in a while and just message her anytime I feel something different,” Luisa said. 

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    Ask if home visits are available

    If you require a home visit or some laboratory tests, you can check the AIDE app. The app can send a doctor or a medical laboratory technician to your home if anyone needs a checkup or a blood test done. That way, you don’t have to leave your house, as is mandated by the enhanced home quarantine. If you need to buy medicine and have it sent to you, AIDE can also help you.

    Try online consultation

    Online consultations are still relatively unheard of here in the Philippines but are already being practiced in a few other countries. This may be challenging because doctor checkups, including prenatal checkups, rely on the doctor physically assessing a patient.

    But look at it this way, online consultations are not so different from sending your doctor questions over text messages. During the enhanced community quarantine, now is the best time more than ever to be constantly in touch with your doctor.

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    If you are a member of a Facebook group, don't be afraid to ask if there is a doctor or maternal nurse who are free to answer your questions.

    Pregnant? How are you doing during enhanced community quarantine?   

    Click here for crucial tips to avoid getting sick when you're pregnant.

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