What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new illness that affects the lungs and breathing. It is caused by a new Coronavirus. Symptoms include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. It also may cause stomach problems, such as nausea and diarrhea, and a loss of your sense of smell or taste. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after you are exposed to the virus.
How does COVID-19 affect pregnant women?
Current reports show that pregnant women do not have more severe symptoms than the general public. But researchers are still learning how the illness affects pregnant women. Doctors urge pregnant women to take the same steps as the general public to avoid coronavirus.
How can COVID-19 affect a fetus?
It’s too early for researchers to know how COVID-19 might affect a fetus. Some pregnant women with COVID-19 have had preterm births, but it is not clear whether the preterm births were because of COVID-19. It’s also not clear if COVID-19 can pass to a fetus during labor and delivery.
What should pregnant women do to avoid coronavirus?
The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person contact. Pregnant women can take the same steps as other people to protect themselves, including
- Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Cleaning hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if you can’t wash them (rub until your hands feel dry)
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Staying home as much as possible
- Staying at least 6 feet away from other people if you need to go out
- Avoiding people who are sick
How will COVID-19 affect prenatal and postpartum care visits?
- Some women may have fewer or more spaced out in-person visits. You also may talk more with your health care team over the phone or through an online video call. This is called telemedicine. It is a good way for you to get the care you need while preventing the spread of disease.
- If you have a visit scheduled, your care team’s office may call you ahead of time. They may tell you about telemedicine or make sure you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 if you are going into the office. You also can call them before your visits if you do not hear from them.
How can I manage stress and anxiety?
Being home a lot and avoiding other people can be hard. The above tips for staying physically healthy also can help your mental health. A few other things you can do to stay mentally healthy include:
- Staying connected with your friends and family, over the phone or online.
- Taking breaks from coronavirus news and social media.
- Telling your ob-gyn or other health care professional if you are feeling sad or anxious.
What should I do if I am pregnant and diagnosed with COVID-19?
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, follow the advice from the CDC and your ob-gyn or other health care professional. The current CDC advice for all people with COVID-19 includes the following:
- Stay home except to get medical care. Avoid public transportation.
- Speak with your health care team over the phone before going to their office. Get medical care right away if you feel worse or think it’s an emergency.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home.
- Wear a face mask when you are around other people and when you go to get medical care.
- Please reference Reliant Medical Group’s website for specific guidance and details for the latest available information.
Should I make any changes to my labor and delivery plans?
- Talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional about your labor and delivery plans. In most cases, the timing and method of delivery (vaginal birth or cesarean birth) do not need to be changed.
- If you are sick, you probably do not need a cesarean birth. But your health care team may wear masks or take other steps to prevent spreading the infection during and after labor and delivery. Your baby may need to be separated from you after birth if you are sick. The separation helps to prevent you from infecting your baby. Talk with your care team about this possibility.
Can COVID-19 pass to a baby through breast milk?
- So far, the virus has not been found in breast milk. But there is not enough information yet on whether women who are sick can pass the virus through breast milk.
- Breast milk gives babies protection against many illnesses. It also is the best source of nutrition for most babies. Talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional about whether to start or continue breastfeeding. You can make this decision together with your family and health care team.
How can I avoid passing COVID-19 to my baby?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been diagnosed, you can take the following steps to avoid passing the infection to your baby:
- Wash your hands before touching your baby.
- Wear a face mask while breastfeeding if possible.
- Wash your hands before touching any breast pump or bottle parts and clean all pump and bottle parts after use.
You also can have someone who is not sick feed your breast milk to your baby after you pump.
Please call our office with any concerns or questions. If you have been tested for COVID-19 and have a positive result, please call the OBGYN Reliant Medical Group location where you routinely receive your care.
Information adapted from ACOG FAQ511. Copyright March 2020 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/pregnancy/coronavirus-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding
CDC website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html