Norfolk's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Norfolk, Virginia | 13NEWSNOW.com

Pregnant women in Hampton Roads face uncertainty during pandemic

"This is a brand-new virus. We have some evidence on how it impacts pregnant women, but we don’t know a lot."

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — With little data on the COVID-19 virus, many pregnant women are facing anxieties from the unknown.

“This is a brand-new virus,” said OBGYN Dr. Alfred Abuhamad. “We have some evidence on how it impacts pregnant women, but we don’t know a lot.”

OBGYN’s in Hampton Roads are cutting back in-person appointments and using virtual visits to keep expecting mothers healthy.

EVMS OBGYN Dr. Alfred Abuhamad said there is currently no evidence that pregnant women are more at risk of getting the coronavirus. 

“We don’t have any evidence that it can be transmitted while the mom is pregnant, to the baby,” Dr. Abuhamad said.

But he said there are concerns about its impact.

“We have found some reports, however, that it increases the risk of preterm labor and increases the risk of fetal growth restriction in pregnant women affected with the coronavirus,” Dr. Abuhamad said.

He understands his patients' anxieties and said they should follow social distancing and hygiene rules.

Dr. Abuhamad said hospitals are the safest place to have a baby. But he said home births can be too, with the right attendant and a low-risk pregnancy.

“People are scared,” said homebirth midwife Tammi McKinley. “They don’t want to go into the hospital and expose themselves.

McKinley said right now more mothers are canceling planned hospital births because of the virus.

“Typically, I might talk to 10 women looking into out-of-hospital birth over the course of a month,” McKinley said. “But I’ve talked to about 10 women in two days.”

She said many moms fear the unknown, but home births should only be an option for healthy pregnancies. She has run Hampton Roads Midwifery for 16 years.

“I got contacted by a mom who is a diabetic,” McKinley said. “Well, that is a case to be seen at the hospital. But the majority of women are low-risk.”

She encourages moms to still be social at home to help keep the stress of isolation low.

“Instead of doing in-person support groups, we are doing them online,” McKinley said.

Dr. Abuhamad reminds patients that the distancing is only temporary.

“This will pass,” Dr. Abuhamad said. “The most important thing is the health of our pregnant patients and their unborn children.”

RELATED: Hospitals taking extra precautions to protect pregnant women amid COVID-19 outbreak

RELATED: Virginia Beach dance teacher connects with students virtually amid COVID-19 outbreak