Ask the Expert: Pregnancy and Virtual Appointments
This Covid-19 health crisis has led to a drive towards reducing the number of people attending hospitals in person to reduce the risk of infection. Understandably, virtual consultations instead of in-person appointments have caused anxiety, especially among vulnerable groups like pregnant mothers.
However, it is important to note that before a pregnant woman is offered a virtual consult, her healthcare provider makes a thorough assessment of whether this type of appointment is suitable for her. Factors such as stage of pregnancy, risk factors (like diabetes, high blood pressure, or twins), and risks from potential exposure to infection are all considered. Moreover, doctors may try to use a mix of virtual and in-person consults where the in-person visits would be maximally used by clubbing together blood tests, scans, and so on in one visit. Healthcare professional bodies and authorities have provided guidelines for doctors to help them safely choose the right patients for a virtual review.
If you are offered a virtual visit, it is essential to let your doctor know if you have developed any new symptoms or concerns since your last appointment. New information may mean that an in-person visit may be more appropriate. It’s also wise to ensure that you have access to the right equipment and software, as well as undisturbed time and space to engage and benefit from virtual visits. Before your visit, it’s a good idea to note down your blood pressure and weight (along with any other home monitoring results that have been advised) and have those ready. Additionally, having a prepared list of concerns and questions you want to discuss with your doctor can also help you make the most of your appointment.
If appropriately selected for the right woman at the right stage of pregnancy, virtual appointments could reduce the risk of exposure to infection. Still, if a patient has concerns and feels uncomfortable with this type of clinical review, they should discuss it with their doctor.
Dr Suruchi Mohan
Attending Physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology