Letter to Obstetric Patients Regarding COVID-19
My thoughts are with you during this stressful time. At this moment of great joy, excitement, and anticipation, instead you may be experiencing worry and fears about how COVID-19 will affect your pregnancy care, and the health of yourself and your baby. Firstly I want to reassure you that the health of you and your baby is my highest priority, and I want to encourage you to contact my rooms if you have questions, symptoms, or worries.
You may wish to read through some resources that have been put together by Queensland Health:
COVID-19 and pregnancy
I have had requests to provide advice about whether you should take early leave from your occupation to reduce your chances of a COVID-19 infection. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is currently recommending that pregnant women work from home where possible. While there is currently no specific advice for pregnant women to stop working or take leave from work, there are general recommendations to avoid larger groups and practice social distancing, along with advice about hygiene practices.
My advice specifically for pregnant women is upgraded in order for you to stay as safe as possible and stay ahead of the wave of COVID-19 transmissions that seem to be escalating rapidly.
The following recommendations reflect my advice based on reading health guideline updates, my own observations, and after discussion with colleagues:
- Work from home if at all possible.
- You are within your rights to request early leave from work especially where you may be exposed to large groups of people (at work or getting to/getting home from work); I would encourage you to negotiate this with your employer.
- If you have children, whether or not to remove them from school is a controversial decision. School is a “large group” environment likely to accelerate spread. If you are trying to protect yourself, this would be an effective way to limit your exposure.
- If you cannot stop attending your workplace, limit your exposure to colleagues and others by maintaining appropriate social distances >1.5m, wash hands regularly (especially before eating), avoid contact such as shaking hands, avoid touching your eyes/nose/mouth/face etc.
- Partners and household family members are advised similarly as above in points 2, 3 and 4. Furthermore, household members are encouraged to be vigilant by heeding precautionary measures with social distancing, hygiene measures, and washing hands when arriving home. Isolation and seeking medical advice should be sought if partners or other members of your family develop worrying symptoms.
Contact me if you feel you have a confirmed exposure, or suspected/confirmed infection so I can help arrange appropriate care and follow up. I will be assessing antenatal appointments ahead of time from this week onwards to determine if we can look at the option of telephone consultations to reduce the need to attend the surgery in person. There will still be a requirement for reviews “in house” so that we can check baby’s ongoing growth and well being, the frequency of which will be determined on a case by case basis depending on your pregnancy and circumstances.
My hope is that by limiting your risk of exposure, you will continue to be safe in pregnancy, delivery and back at home afterwards.
Kind regards and yours sincerely,
Dr Matt Thyer