The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says women who are pregnant should be monitored more closely than the general population since they are known to be at risk of severe viral illness. Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which make them more susceptible to complications from viral respiratory infections. If you are pregnant, you should take the following preventative actions:
- Avoid people who are sick or who have been exposed to the virus.
- Clean your hands often using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Wear a face mask when you leave your home.
Should I continue to have prenatal visits? I’m worried about exposure to COVID-19 in the doctor’s office.
You must continue to see your provider for routine prenatal care and testing. Prenatal visits are important, now more than ever, to ensure maternal and fetal health. At CareMount, we are seeing patients in the office and using virtual visits so patients can see their own personal, trusted providers online. After a virtual visit, your provider can decide if you need to come in for an appointment based on your pregnancy history and needs. If you are scheduled for an ultrasound or any testing, it is necessary to continue with your appointment without delay. We recommend that women talk to their obstetrician about their prenatal care and continue to attend appointments as long as their obstetrician believes it is appropriate.
What if I have symptoms of COVID-19?
If you have symptoms, call your provider immediately. After a series of questions, your doctor will determine whether you need to go to the hospital or stay at home. Your doctor may ask you to quarantine and rest at home. If you stay at home, stay away from others as much as possible. You should remain in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home and if possible, use a separate bathroom.
If you have emergency warning signs, call 911 or go to the hospital right away. Emergency warning signs include:
- Having a hard time breathing or shortness of breath (more than what has been normal for you during pregnancy)
- Ongoing pain or pressure in the chest
- Sudden confusion
- Being unable to respond to others
- Blue lips or face
What if I test positive for COVID-19 while I am pregnant?
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, your treatment will be aimed at relieving symptoms and may include getting plenty of fluids and rest, as well as medication to reduce fever, relieve pain or lessen coughing. If there are other family members in the home, isolate yourself to lessen the chance of spreading. Stay home except to get medical care and avoid public transportation.
Discuss choices that you will make for you and your baby beforehand with the baby’s co-parent, a family member and your healthcare team. The mode of delivery (vaginal versus C-section) and choice of pain control should not be different for COVID-19 positive patients. However, the number of companions who can be with you during labor will be limited.
What are the risks to my baby if I have tested positive for COVID-19?
It isn’t known if COVID-19 causes problems during pregnancy or affects the health of the baby after birth. The risk of passing the infection to a fetus appears to be very low. Currently, there is no evidence of any fetal malformations or effects due to maternal infection with COVID-19.
What Can I Do?
It is very important to stay physically and emotionally healthy right now. Eat nutritious meals, remember to hydrate and drink plenty of water, get restful sleep, exercise regularly as prescribed by your provider, find ways to relax and meditate, and avoid drugs and alcohol. Reap from the benefits of technology, and be social. Connect with family and friends through videoconferencing. And follow the general guidelines of washing your hands often, not touching your face, sheltering in place, wearing a mask when outdoors, and cleaning surfaces in your home. A healthy, strong mind and body are able to ward off infections and illnesses much more easily than a run down one!
Sources: CDC, ACOG