Life Parenthood

How Virtual Pregnancy Care Can Save You Time

January 30, 2020
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Quick Read

Telemedicine for maternity care

  • A new TeleOB program replaces select in-person maternity visits with virtual visits.
  • The idea is to offer moms-to-be more convenience and flexibility with their prenatal care.
  • Patients take basic measurements and video chat with a certified nurse-midwife.
  • Moms-to-be still see their regular obstetrician during office prenatal appointments.

From hearing your baby’s heartbeat to feeling those first fluttery kicks in your belly, being pregnant is incredible. But real talk? It can be pretty darn exhausting, too.

You already have a packed schedule, and now you need to get ready for the arrival of your little one. There’s a name to pick, a car seat to buy, a crib to assemble and don’t forget about all those prenatal appointments to attend. Add up the dozen or so maternity care visits a typical pregnant woman needs and, well, you get the idea — it can be a lot.

“With travel time and everything, it’s about two hours from the time that I leave my house to the time that I actually get home from a typical appointment,” explains Rose Jordan, a working mom who is expecting her second child.

So when Jordan, who sees obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Sue Moreni at the UW Neighborhood Ravenna Clinic, heard about UW Medicine’s new TeleOB maternity care program, she immediately said yes.

What is TeleOB?

TeleOB is a telemedicine program designed to make life easier for expecting mothers. Those who qualify for the program — typically low-risk maternity patients who have no complications — are able to replace a handful of their in-person prenatal appointments with virtual visits.

The idea, Moreni says, is to continue delivering quality maternity care to patients but in a way that’s more convenient for them and their busy schedule.

“In the traditional obstetrician care model, you’re looking at 14 or more visits,” she explains. “With TeleOB, we designate up to five prenatal visits as safe to do as a telemedicine visit, and this helps patients save time.”

Working moms who participate in the TeleOB program need to take less time off of work to go to their prenatal appointments, while women who already have children don’t need to arrange for childcare or worry about bringing their kids to appointments.

“The convenience of being able to take 10 minutes for an appointment that would normally take two hours is a serious lifesaver,” Jordan says.

For Moreni and other obstetricians (OBs) who have patients participating in the program, this is exactly the kind of reaction they’re hoping for.

“Published data shows that these telemedicine visits are safe and that there’s high patient satisfaction, especially if a patient is on baby number two,” Moreni says.

What happens during a TeleOB visit?

The five designated TeleOB visits all take place in the second and third trimesters, when there are no tests done in the office. There’s also an additional postpartum telemedicine visit one or two weeks after your baby is born.

Before your first virtual visit, your OB will give you a fetal doppler (a tool for listening to baby’s heartbeat) and a blood pressure cuff along with some simple instructions on how to use the equipment. Before your TeleOB visit, you’ll take your measurements, log them into your online patient file and then video chat with a midwife.

“All the things that we could talk about in an office visit, you’ll be able to talk about with your TeleOB provider,” Moreni says.

As for the patient experience, Jordan says her virtual appointments are easy and feel completely natural.

“In today’s world, we’re so used to interacting with people over the computer,” she explains. “I’m on video calls for work all day, so in many ways, this feels like an extension of that.”

Who can sign up for TeleOB?

TeleOB appointments may work well for your pregnancy if you’re what’s considered a low-risk maternity patient, meaning you’re expecting only one baby and, considering various health factors, your doctor expects you to have an uncomplicated birth.

That said, every mom-to-be is different. If you’re wondering if TeleOB is an option for you, ask your OB-GYN at your next appointment.

“It just means convenience to have a service like this,” Jordan says. “I have several friends who are all working moms, and we’re all juggling careers, family responsibilities, life — anything that makes it all a little easier, I absolutely would recommend.”

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