Pregnant In The Age Of COVID-19? Here’s What Experts Want You To Know

As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], we have limited pregnancy-specific data about COVID-19 at this time. However, based on prior outbreaks caused by similar viruses (e.g. SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV), we know that pregnant women and babies may be at risk of becoming sick—and it is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses. 

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What is the risk to pregnant women of getting COVID-19? Is it easier for pregnant women to become ill with the disease? 

‘’While pregnancy does weaken the immune system, it doesn’t seem to make women susceptible to COVID-19 the way age or conditions like lung or heart disease does’’ said Dr. Jane van Dis, an OB-GYN who serves as medical director at the telemedicine network Maven

“While I think pregnant women should practice every degree of social distancing that they can because that is just smart, I don’t think pregnant women should feel a sense of panic,” she said. “We’re just not seeing the data to show that the virus is attacking their immune system in the same way as someone, say, over the age of 70.”

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Even if pregnant women do get the illness, they tend to fare well. One investigation of 147 pregnant women in China who either had or were suspected to have COVID-19, for instance, found that only 8% had severe cases, and 1% had critical cases.

Still, because pregnant women are at greater risk of severe morbidity and mortality from other respiratory infections like the flu, they “Should be considered an at-risk population for COVID-19,” according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Can COVID-19 be passed from a pregnant woman to the fetus or newborn?

Despite increasing reports of babies testing positive for COVID-19, there’s still no medical evidence that pregnant women with COVID-19 can pass it on in utero. In fact, research has suggested the contrary: nine pregnant women in Wuhan who had COVID-19 found their babies tested negative. There was no evidence of the virus in breast milk, amniotic fluid, or cord blood, either. (Source: Business Insider). 

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So, there’s some good news. Moreover, of the 34 cases of babies born to women with COVID-19 that were discussed in a CDC seminar for medical professionals, none tested positive for the illness.

What extra precautions should I take while pregnant?

Official recommendations during pregnancy are currently about the same as for the general population, including avoiding crowds, staying away from sick people, washing hands frequently and not touching the face. 

But, according to Jie Qiao, director of the National Clinical Research Center of Obstetrics and Gynecology Disease in China, ‘’Talk to your doctor about telemedicine, to avoid unnecessary visits to the office. Except important pregnancy checkups”. She added, “Consulting [your] doctors online is recommended.” Many offices are already working to consolidate in-person appointments (for example, if someone is coming in for an ultrasound, a routine prenatal check might be added to the same visit). 

In addition to personal steps, Jie Qiao notes that it is important to consider how such a widespread outbreak could strain the health system, leading to disruptions in normal care. To prepare for that, she says, she advises that pregnant people have their medical records on hand.

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Things to do : 

  1. Practice social distancing, which means being separated from another person by at least 6 feet. Ask your health care provider for virtual or off-hour visits for your prenatal visits, ultrasound and lab testing.
  2. Call your hospital or birth center and ask them about any restrictions they have on the number of support persons (e.g. doula, spouses, family) allowed in the room during labor and delivery.
  3. If you are in labor and you have, or think may have COVID-19, call the hospital before you go so the staff can properly prepare and protect your baby and others from being infected. 
  4. Take periodic breaks from watching or listening to the pandemic news stories or going on social media to help reduce anxiety.
  5. Keep in touch with people you care about and who care about you. Tell your partner, family and friends how you’re feeling.
  6. While COVID-19 has changed the way daily life looks for us, there are things you can do to help keep a routine. Every day, take a shower, eat healthy foods and regular meals, drink plenty of water and get a good night’s sleep.
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