Table 2

Commonly reported uses of telemedicine in maternal healthcare related to the COVID-19 pandemic and providers’ insights and perceived benefits

PracticesUse of telemedicineProvider’s insights and perceived benefits
Education and counselling of women and their familiesProviding birth preparedness classes by video
  •  Allows ongoing provision of important educational and supportive care.

  •  Convenient because women and their partners can participate and continue with other tasks (caring for other children, for example) and do not need transport.

Postnatal (breastfeeding) counselling and support by video
  •  During the COVID-19 pandemic women often had less access to support from family and friends, making postnatal support by healthcare providers (in particular, midwives) even more crucial.

Psychosocial counselling by phone/video
  •  Useful to address the generally increased levels of anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  •  Effective to provide information and highly demanded by women and their families (especially regarding COVID-19 risks and potential negative consequences for mother and baby if infected).

Reducing or eliminating personal visitsPrescriptions (contraception, medication, medical abortion pill) by WhatsApp/email
Lab results exchange by WhatsApp/email
  •  Visits to the facility can be avoided by giving prescriptions and/or medications for longer periods than usual.

  •  Face-to-face consultation time can be reduced or eliminated when people receive digital information/prescriptions/lab results.

Replacing in-person consultations with telemedicineAntenatal and postnatal care consultations by phone/video
  •  More often used if pregnancies were low risk, while high risk often continued with in-person visits.

  •  Often a personal decision by the health provider whether to replace in-person visits by telehealth or not, because of the lack of official guidelines.

  •  Easy to schedule a convenient time for woman and health provider.

Setting up hotlines or information lines to provide guidance on care seekingWomen with (potential) signs of labour are recommended to call the maternity ward before going to the hospital
Institutional hotline for all questions regarding maternity care during COVID-19
  •  Hospital visits can be avoided by giving correct information and telephone counselling for women with questions or early signs of the start of labour.

Providers connecting to one another to provide better care coverage/quality Increased professional communication, collaboration and training:
  •  Exchange through WhatsApp/email/phone

  •  Online seminars/training sessions

  •  Online simulations

  •  Highly used for interdisciplinary care for pregnant and/or postpartum women suspected or confirmed with COVID-19.

  •  Useful for discussing concerns regarding high-risk patients.

  •  Potential to avoid referrals by receiving input from experts.