What to know if you are pregnant right now
For many parents expecting a baby can bring joy and excitement, but during a time of high uncertainty such as with the COVID-19 pandemic, it can raise concerns and many questions.
What steps can pregnant women take to ensure the health and safety of both themselves and their unborn child?
Dr. Foil: The best preventive measures to avoid COVID-19 remain the same for pregnant women as it does for the general public, which is to avoid exposure to the virus. This includes washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, practicing safe social distancing by staying at home, covering your mouth while coughing and sneezing, in addition to cleaning and disinfecting frequently used spaces daily.
What do we know about COVID-19 affecting pregnant women?
Dr. Foil: COVID-19 is a new virus, so we don’t fully know the extent of how it can affect pregnancy. So far, expecting mothers who have COVID-19 haven’t been found to be at greater risk of poor pregnancy outcomes.
However, we do know that other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS can cause increased risks of preterm labor and delivery.
Right now, the greatest risk for pregnant women remains the flu, which is more severe and has increase risks of illness in newborns.
What is the risk of coronavirus transmission to the unborn child during delivery?
Dr. Foil: Again, since COVID-19 is a new virus, we do not have any previous studies or data. What we do know is that health care providers have tested amniotic fluid, placenta and cord blood in women with COVID-19 and found no evidence of coronavirus in the tissue or fluid after delivery. So far, there have been zero documented cases of vertical transmission from mother to fetus.
What is the risk of transmitting coronavirus during breastfeeding?
Dr. Foil: Women with COVID-19 can still breastfeed. We recommend the mother pump breastmilk and bottle-feed their newborn. The mother also should wear a mask when she has contact with her baby. The most important thing to remember during breastfeeding is to practice good handwashing.
Where’s the safest place to have my baby?
Dr. Windsor: Hospitals remain the safest place to deliver your baby. Preventing contagious diseases is not new for health care workers. We have extensive protocols in place at our hospitals and birthing centers to continue to be the safest place to have your baby.
Our breadth of skilled health care workers, which include physicians, midwives and nurses are trained experts in caring for mom and baby.
During this time, Advocate Aurora Health does have special heightened precautions in place, which includes changes to our visitor policy and screening of individuals to determine their risk of COVID-19.
What should I do if I have questions or concerns on COVID-19 exposure?
Dr. Foil: The first and foremost thing to do if you have concerns or think you were exposed to COVID-19 is to call your prenatal care provider. We ask that you do not come to your doctor’s office or the hospital unannounced because it does not allow for our staff to prepare for your visit. We would like to speak with the mother over the phone to evaluate and determine the appropriate course of action to care for you in the safest way possible.
If you are experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath, begin with the COVID-19 Symptom Checker. As always, if you think you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 911.
What should expecting mothers know during COVID-19?
Dr. Windsor: Expecting mothers should know two things. First, stay informed. The Centers for Disease Control is a resource for parents to stay up-to-date on the latest information about COVID-19 in regards to pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Most importantly, parents should know their safety and the safety of their newborn are our highest priority. We’ve got this and we are here to support you in every way during your pregnancy journey, whether that be during a pandemic or not.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.