‘Complicated pregnancy scenarios’ a reality at Toronto’s Sinai Health amid COVID-19 3rd wave


More than two-thirds of all pregnancies seen at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital are high-risk, but few have been more complex than during this third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the best of times, it’s busy and complicated and requires a lot of different physicians and nurses to provide care for people who have really significant issues in their pregnancies,” said Dr. Cindy Maxwell, division head of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Program.

“COVID-19 has really added to that environment and certainly increased the number of pregnant people that we’re seeing with severe forms of illness, particularly in the third wave,” she added.

Home to the busiest labour and delivery ward in Canada, Sinai Health welcomes 7,000 babies every year.

The pandemic, in particular the third wave, has brought new challenges and fears for the medical team and pregnant patients.

“It’s been a wake-up call. So for sure, we are seeing levels of illness that are of great concern. We’re having to think through protocols for how pregnant people are treated in the ICU, how they’re provided oxygen. What type of position do you use if you want to flip someone on their tummy? How do you do that in third trimester of pregnancy?” noted Maxwell.

The doctors and nurses, Maxwell pointed out, are mindful that care must be provided to the pregnant individual and the baby still inside.

“We have definitely seen some of the most complicated pregnancy scenarios I think, that we would have faced in our careers during this third wave in particular,” she added.

“Right now, we are seeing those scenarios where people are potentially at the brink of a moment in their health, where it could be a life or death scenario … we don’t know what the long-term consequences will be of having COVID-19 in pregnancy so what a person’s lung function will be or how their heart function will be, or how a future pregnancy might unfold but we’re optimistic that the recovery should be good and that they can go on to have future pregnancies,” she said.

In time for Mother’s Day, Sinai Health Foundation is celebrating motherhood and its team of women’s and infants’ health specialists in its latest public campaign.

Commissioned by Sinai Health Foundation, “Care for the Strongest” features mini-documentaries highlighting the power of motherhood, while showcasing Sinai Health’s renowned high-risk pregnancy program that treats some of the most complicated pregnancies in Canada.