Updated on June 27, 2020 // Originally posted on March 23, 2020
As the coronavirus crisis continues, each day seems to bring more questions than answers – especially if you’re pregnant during this pandemic. But here are a few things you should know.
Pregnant women may be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
“There’s no evidence that pregnant women are any more susceptible to COVID than the average healthy adult is,” Christina Han, a high-risk pregnancy specialist who teaches at UCLA, said in an interview with ProPublica.
However, the CDC now reports that pregnant women may be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and thus should take extra precautions.
Additionally, there may be an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, among pregnant people with COVID-19.
Furthermore, expectant moms need to be extra careful because the immune system can be weaker during pregnancy. Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory Healthcare, told NPR that she considers pregnant people an “at-risk” group.
Research on COVID-19 is new and limited. So, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that contracting the coronavirus while pregnant could make you more vulnerable to severe respiratory problems, such as pneumonia, ProPublica reports.
According to the CDC, an MMWR study suggests that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized and are at increased risk for intensive care unit (ICU) admission and receipt of mechanical ventilation than nonpregnant women.
Like everyone else, you should avoid crowds, stay away from sick people, wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face.
Jie Qiao, director of the National Clinical Research Center of Obstetrics and Gynecology Disease in China, told NPR she would take these recommendations a step further. She suggests that pregnant women avoid public areas if possible and wear a mask when out.
Qiao even recommends consulting your doctor online as much as possible in lieu of some in-person appointments.
If you get sick, you probably won’t infect your fetus, but you could infect your newborn.
There’s been no evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in utero or during delivery. So, if you get sick while you’re pregnant, you probably won’t infect your fetus. However, after birth, your baby could be infected by the illness if in close contact with someone who has it.
Fortunately, no research has indicated that COVID-19 can be transmitted through breast milk. If you’re sick but want to provide breast milk for your newborn, the CDC recommends that you wear a cloth face covering while breastfeeding and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before each feeding. You could also use a breast pump and practice good pumping hygiene.
You need a new delivery and postpartum plan.
Unfortunately, the birth experience you dreamed of pre-pandemic, is probably not the one you’re going to get. And your first few postpartum days will probably look a lot different, too.
Many hospitals are only allowing one support person in the delivery room. And when it comes to visitors after birth, they may not allow any at all.
If your partner gets sick and has to self-quarantine, you need a backup support person who can step in. And because COVID-19 is riskier for older adults, that backup caregiver shouldn’t be your mom or mother-in-law. Enlist a younger adult to help out instead.
As you continue to navigate the uncertainties of being pregnant during a pandemic, remember to lean on your virtual village like never before.