Pregnancy and COVID-19
Having a baby should be a joyous time, but the COVID-19 outbreak has caused fear and anxiety among many expecting parents. Ashley Jeffords, nurse practitioner with USC OB/GYN, shared what is currently known about pregnancy and COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Are pregnant women at increased risk?
We are currently unaware if pregnancy increases the risk of being infected with COVID-19 compared to the general public. Current research has shown that pregnant women do not have more severe symptoms compared to the general public.
We do know that pregnant women are more susceptible to other types of respiratory infections. And they’ve had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses from the same family as COVID-19, such as influenza. With that being said, pregnant women should be considered an at-risk population for COVID-19.
It’s too early for researchers to know how COVID-19 might affect a fetus, but the virus has not been detected in amniotic fluid or breast milk.
Some pregnant women who were affected with COVID-19 have had preterm births, but it is not clear if COVID-19 was the cause. A very small number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth, but it’s unknown if these babies got the virus before or after birth. After birth, a newborn is susceptible to person-to-person spread.
“Our Prisma Health team is doing everything we can to make sure mom and baby are protected,” said Jeffords.
How can pregnant women protect themselves from COVID-19?
Jeffords said the CDC and ACOG recommend that pregnant women should take the same steps as the general public to help avoid becoming infected.
- Avoid people who are sick or who have been exposed to the virus. If someone in your home is infected, that person should stay separated from others in the home as much as possible.
- Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If using soap and water, wash for at least 20 seconds. If using hand sanitizer, it should contain at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes, and then immediately wash hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Wear a cloth facemask that covers your nose and mouth when you go out in public. You do not need to wear a surgical mask or a medical-grade mask. Remember to social distance (minimum of 6 feet) with others.
- Request to work from home if you work outside of the home (if possible).
- Do your best to stay physically healthy by eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise and adequate sleep.
Prenatal and postpartum visits
Your healthcare provider may recommend some changes to your routine office visits during this time. Some women may have fewer or more spaced out in-person visits. You may also be asked to have your visit through the telephone or an online video call, which is a good way for many patients to continue getting the care they need while helping to prevent the spread of the virus.
What should pregnant women do if they have symptoms of COVID-19?
If you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath and are concerned that you were exposed to COVID-19, call your provider to get information about COVID-19 testing and how to self-quarantine.
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