Texas doctors explain extra benefits of working from home for expectant mothers

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas doctors say there are extra benefits to working from home for expectant mothers during the pandemic.

Robin Averhoff is pregnant with her third child. She was due Aug. 18, and is set to be induced Friday.

“I’ve not been induced yet,” she said. One of the only major differences during this pregnancy was the pandemic.

Averhoff works for Covenant Health and went from coordinating donor events to working from home when everything shut down in the spring. Now, she’s in the office only a couple days a week and spends the others working from home.

“The virtual workplace has actually been really nice and it has been something that probably alleviates a little bit of stress,” Averhoff said.

“We know that stress definitely can lead to an increased risk for preterm labor, depending on the amount of stress in the person in the other pre-existing medical conditions,” Dr. George Barnett with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center explained.

In other countries, including Ireland and Denmark, studies have shown a major decrease in premature births during lockdowns. While the same studies have not been conducted in the U.S. yet, Dr. Barnett said he can understand a possible link.

A decrease in stress is not the only explanation, Dr. Barnett said.

“Could it be possible that the lack of exposure to other things, whether it be outside the home working, different viruses we don’t understand or infections, you certainly wonder if that could play a part as well,” Dr. Barnett explained.

Still, doctors are far from recommending all pregnant women should work from home. But, there’s hope the pandemic will allow companies to offer the option to women with underlying medical conditions in years to come.

“This hopefully will open up the window and allow a lot of businesses or companies or whoever to say, well, you may be on bedrest, but you’re not going to have to use all your time off, or your paid time off,” Dr. Barnett said.

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