Pregnant During COVID-19: Here’s What You Can Expect

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Pregnant

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We’re all understandably uneasy about COVID-19. But if you’re pregnant, you likely have an additional layer of concern. We asked David McKenna, MD with Perinatal Partners some of the questions we know you’re grappling with.

Is My Unborn Baby At Risk?

No, says Dr. McKenna. “At this point there is no evidence to suggest that a mother can pass COVID-19 to her unborn baby. That’s very reassuring.” The bigger concern, he explains, is mom passing the virus to her baby once the baby is born. “That’s why, if mom has the virus or is showing symptoms, we recommend she be separated from her baby after giving birth, while she is still infectious.”  A study in China of nine infants who tested positive for COVID-19  showed that while all were hospitalized, none required intensive care or mechanical ventilation or had any severe complications. All contracted the virus from an infected family member after birth.

Am I More Likely To Get COVID-19 If I’m Pregnant?

Maybe, says Dr. McKenna. “There’s always been a general pattern that pregnant women seem to be more susceptible to infections. That’s probably because mom’s immune system is depressed during pregnancy.” For this reason, the recommendation is that you follow the same self-protection recommendations as everyone else.

Am I At Higher Risk Of Complications If I Get the Virus When Pregnant? 

“From what we’ve seen, probably not,” says Dr. McKenna. He adds that it’s important to recognize that most people who get the virus don’t require hospitalization. And of those that are hospitalized, most don’t require a ventilator. Don’t panic, but do consult your obstetrician.

If you have COVID-19, you may be more likely to deliver before your due date. “That’s not because coronavirus causes premature births, but because your doctor may want you to deliver your baby sooner,” Dr. McKenna explains.

Can I Have a Support Person During And After Birth?

Currently at Premier Health hospitals, two support persons are permitted during labor, delivery, and until you are discharged. “But if your support persons show any symptoms of COVID-19, they won’t be permitted in the hospital,” Dr. McKenna explains. “And if you show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, you won’t be permitted a support person or visitor.” The rules are in place for the safety of mom, the baby, and the support person, says Dr. McKenna. He notes that rules are subject to change as the pandemic evolves.

How Are Pre- and Post-Delivery Visits With My Doctor Being Handled?

“All obstetricians are looking for ways to minimize face-to-face contact without diminishing the level of care they provide,” assures Dr. McKenna. “For example, we’re spacing out appointments and prescribing blood pressure cuffs for patients so they can monitor themselves and call in with results. And if mom has a Cesarean birth, we can arrange for her to securely send a picture or video of her incision scar two weeks postpartum so we can review during a phone call and avoid a face-to-face visit if possible.”

How Will I Be Protected At the Hospital?

“We’re following these guidelines recommended by numerous professional organizations,” says Dr. McKenna:

  1. Moms who arrive in labor and show no COVID-19 symptoms will be placed in a room that is not located near someone with the virus.
  2. If you’re showing symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival, you’ll be isolated from healthy moms, as well as from moms who have tested positive for COVID-19. This process is also true for patients with the flu, and is intended to protect you and other moms. All staff will be wearing personal protective equipment.
  3. Moms who show COVID-19 symptoms or test positive will be cared for separately in a special unit of the hospital by obstetricians and other specialists.

Would a Home Birth Be Better?

“Absolutely not,” says Dr. McKenna. He suggests pregnant women consider this recent message from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

ACOG believes that the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center.

Even the healthiest pregnancies can have problems arise with little or no warning during labor and delivery. If problems happen, a hospital setting can give you and your baby the best care in a hurry. And studies have shown that babies born at home are more than twice as likely to die around the time of birth than those born in hospitals.

Every woman has the right to choose where she will give birth. But it is important to not take any risks that might put you or your newborn’s health in danger, especially while there is a high risk for getting COVID-19. Talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional about your birth plan and any concerns.

Can I Breastfeed My Newborn?

“We always recommend breastfeeding,” Dr. McKenna explains. “But if mom has COVID-19, we recommend she express her milk into a bottle.” There is no indication that a baby can contract the virus by drinking breast milk from her infected mom.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.