Giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic: an obstetric anesthesiologist’s perspective [PODCAST]

Thank you for listening to the podcast. There were some audio difficulties, which I hope you can overlook. It certainly does not take away from Dr. Sheikh’s message and her wonderful interview.

“‘It’s a strange time to be having a baby,’ my patient said as she sat alone in her labor room. The state order to shelter-in-place in California had left her family with few options as her husband had to stay home to take care of their toddler. She is one of many pregnant women who do not have the choice to even consider a home birth due to her congenital heart condition, which puts her at risk for sudden cardiac death.

She understood that she was part of a ‘high-risk’ population, the ones with preexisting conditions that are more likely to have severe disease if they contract COVID-19. If she got sick, it would mean total isolation and separation from her baby and family for weeks.

I sat with her a little longer. She smiled, but I could see the fear and uncertainty in her eyes — fear of giving birth alone and of what life would look like with a newborn in our new apocalyptic reality. Pre-pandemic, I would have sat closer to her and even held her hand to ensure her that she was not alone. But I sat six feet away and consoled her from a distance and simultaneously wondered if she could sense my own fear and apprehension.

‘I’m sorry that your husband can’t be here with you. These are unprecedented times for all of us, and we’ll do the best we can to keep you and your baby safe.’

We must be strong for our patients. As young physicians, we have seen our fair share of trauma, death, and despair. But most of us have never had to come face-to-face with our own mortality. Now, we have fear.”

Maria Sheikh is an obstetric anesthesiologist who blogs at The Epidural Doc and can be reached on Twitter @MariaSheikhMD.

She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, “Giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic: an obstetric anesthesiologist’s perspective.”

Hosted by Kevin Pho, MD, The Podcast by KevinMD shares the stories of the many who intersect with our health care system but are rarely heard from.

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