1. Pregnancy
  2. Pregnancy health
  3. Prenatal testing

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Can My Partner Come to My Scan During the Coronavirus Outbreak? New Rules for Ultrasound Appointments

Doctor’s offices worldwide have made changes to maternity care and limited visitation at appointments, leaving pregnant people wondering if their partners can attend scans with them. Throughout 2020 and early 2021, many hospitals were not allowing partners to come to baby scans, but as the COVID situation is evolving rapidly, rules are changing. Read Flo’s article to learn more!

Many hospitals have their own rules when it comes to allowing partners to attend prenatal checkups due to the coronavirus cases and risk in their particular region. If you live in the U.S., the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that you call your provider before your appointment to ask if your partner (or children) can attend scans with you. At many offices, you are currently able to bring one person along with you, but be sure to double-check.

As of June 2021, in the U.K, only your chosen birth partner can come with you to all of your maternity care visits, including scans, prenatal and postnatal appointments, labor, and birth. No children or additional people are allowed, and the birth partner should be the same person throughout the entire pregnancy journey (unless that person comes into contact with someone infected with COVID-19 and needs to self-isolate or shows symptoms). National guidelines state that visits will be limited to 1.5 hours.

The Australian government lets each hospital decide whether to allow partners to come to scans or into the waiting room. Some may strongly prefer that you attend your ultrasound scan alone and do not allow video calling within the scanning room.

Hospitals in France are allowing partners to attend scans, given they are asymptomatic and wear a mask. Some may require that they wait outside the building until the appointment so that the waiting room doesn’t get too full.

Get in touch with your provider about their specific requirements and whether partners are allowed to attend scans because rules vary around the world and among clinics according to the epidemiological situation in the region.

In some countries, a partner is allowed to attend a prenatal scan if they meet several criteria, such as: 

  • Wearing a face mask
  • No symptoms of acute respiratory infection
  • Normal temperature when checked at the entrance to the outpatient clinic 
  • No contact with anyone who has COVID-19 and no traveling abroad within the last two weeks

It’s important that your partner follows the current guidance on social interaction while outside the hospital and in the days or weeks leading up to the appointment. Check if your provider has certain guidelines or requirements for COVID testing or a number of days of quarantine before joining you at the scan.

At your care facility, your partner needs to regularly wash their hands, maintain a safe distance from others, and wear a face mask. If they have symptoms of COVID-19 or were in contact with someone who has COVID-19 within the last two weeks, they will not be able to enter the hospital.

There’s been a rise in at-home ultrasounds for pregnant people as the technology has developed, especially during the COVID pandemic, to limit the need for hospital and doctor visits. Expectant parents may purchase or rent an at-home scanner to feel safe, if for instance, a previous pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

To use an at-home ultrasound, you place the device on your belly, and the image shows up on your smartphone through an app or on your laptop via a software program. The images are shared with a health care provider either remotely offline or in real time via teleconsultation. The provider can tell parents whether their baby is growing normally or if next steps are necessary. Some companies rent out the devices, while others offer them for purchase.

However, the British Medical Ultrasound Society and Society of Radiographers do not recommend at-home ultrasound kits and say that ultrasound equipment should only be used by a trained professional. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also cautions against the use of ultrasound devices by untrained users.

The reasoning for this is that looking at the images with untrained eyes could provide false reassurance that the baby is healthy. There’s also a danger that overexposure to ultrasound could harm the fetus (particularly their sensitive organs, like the brain and eyes). Additionally, ultrasound kits that can be purchased cheaply online may not comply with medical standards for devices and may not have undergone necessary testing and quality assurance procedures.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that over-the-counter fetal heartbeat monitoring systems should only be used by trained health care providers and only when medically necessary. This is because an untrained person using these devices could expose the fetus to unsafe and prolonged energy levels, or they could incorrectly interpret information from the device.

Some services will send a specialist to your home so they can perform the ultrasound there. If you’re not sure about going into the doctor’s office for your ultrasound during the pandemic, speak with your provider about this possibility. 

COVID-19 has had a large impact on maternity care visits, and many health care providers have changed the rules about whether partners can attend scans. Be sure to check the current regulations with your doctor’s office, and remember that experts don’t recommend purchasing an at-home ultrasound device for your own use.

Most experts agree that mandatory ultrasound scans should be performed during pregnancy, regardless of the pandemic or any other related circumstances. These scans, which are done at 11–13 (+6 days) weeks and 20–22 weeks of gestation, should be done by certified medical professionals who specialize in fetal medicine/prenatal ultrasound. They help to diagnose possible abnormalities and predict further complications in time to help make your pregnancy duration and outcome, as well as fetal well-being, as healthy as possible.

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