If you’re pregnant, you may wonder how COVID-19 could affect you and your baby. Get your questions answered.
If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you may wonder how the coronavirus/COVID-19 could affect you and your baby. The OB/GYNs, midwives and other staff providing obstetric care with Norton Healthcare are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. As the situation continues to evolve, patient safety remains our top priority. We have plans and protocols in place that are consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and we continue to update them as needed. Additionally, our obstetric providers are following recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Are pregnant women more at risk for COVID-19?
According to the CDC, pregnant people appear to have the same risk of COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant. However, much remains unknown. The changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy may increase the risk of some infections. Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing complications from viral respiratory infections such as the flu.
It’s always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses. Pregnant women can follow the same precautions as everyone else to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Can I pass COVID-19 to my baby in the womb or through breast milk?
According to the CDC, mother-to-child transmission of coronavirus during pregnancy is unlikely, but after birth a newborn is susceptible to person-to-person spread. The virus has not been detected in amniotic fluid or breast milk. A very small number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth. However, it is unknown if these babies got the virus before or after birth.
Does COVID-19 increase the risk of birth defects, complications or miscarriage?
It’s unclear if COVID-19 poses any risk of birth defects or complications during pregnancy or birth, including miscarriage. The CDC reported there have been a small number of cases of mothers who tested positive for COVID-19 and gave birth prematurely. However, it is unknown if that was because of the infection or other circumstances with those pregnancies.
Do I need to stay away from my baby if I have COVID-19 or think I could have COVID-19?
Our infectious disease specialists recommend that mothers with COVID-19 should be separated from newborns to reduce the risk of transmission. While this is extremely difficult, not a lot is known about infants and COVID-19, and it’s better to be safe.
Should I breastfeed if I have COVID-19?
Breast milk can provide a baby with the best source of nutrition and protection from many illnesses. The CDC gives guidance on the rare exceptions when mothers shouldn’t breastfeed. If you test positive or suspect you have COVID-19, you should use an electric or manual pump and have someone else feed your baby. Be sure to thoroughly clean the pump according to the manufacturer’s instructions after each use.
Should I keep my prenatal and postnatal appointments?
Your prenatal and postnatal care is important for your health and your baby’s. We urge all pregnant women who are well to attend their appointments. If, however, you are pregnant and have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, call your OB/GYN or midwife for advice. You may need to delay your routine visits.
Can someone come with me to my prenatal and postnatal appointments?
At this time and for the safety of everyone involved, we are limiting the number of people who can be in our offices. Only patients will be allowed at appointments, except obstetrics patients coming for their second-trimester ultrasound, who may have one visitor. For other appointments, we encourage expectant mothers to use FaceTime or other video conferencing to allow a significant other to be involved. If you require support during your visit, please contact your provider’s office before your appointment. You will be asked to complete a health screening before you are seen.
It’s time to go to the hospital. Will my delivery be affected by visitor policies?
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Norton Healthcare has updated our visitor restrictions. We have only two entry points at each hospital. One will be a main entrance or a place that can serve as a main entrance. The other will be the emergency department. All visitors will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, respiratory issues and flu-like symptoms. If a visitor has symptoms, they will not be allowed to come into the hospital.
We understand the unique need of families during the birth of a child. Please refer to our visitor restrictions for the latest information before you visit.
Should I make any changes to my labor and delivery plan?
Talk with your OB/GYN or midwife about your labor and delivery plan. It’s likely that there will be no need to change the timing or delivery method (vaginal birth or C-section) for your delivery.
If you are sick with COVID-19, your OB/GYN or midwife and other care team members will wear masks and take steps to prevent the spread of the virus before, during and after your delivery. This may include separating you from your baby after birth to help protect your baby from the virus. Talk with your provider and care team about this and other measures that may be taken.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, hospitals have adjusted their policies. Please check with your OB/GYN to understand any hospital policy changes that may affect your birth plan. Be sure to mention if you are planning to have a doula present during your delivery.
Coping with stress
Pandemics can be stressful for everyone. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children. Coping successfully with stress will make you and the people you care about stronger.
Depression during and after pregnancy is common and can be treated. Postpartum depression is depression that can happen after having a baby. If you think you may be experiencing depression, seek treatment from your health care provider as soon as possible. Find more information on depression during and after pregnancy.