Facing Coronavirus During Pregnancy: What to Know


If you’re pregnant, here are some things you should know about minimizing your risk for COVID-19 and what to expect in these changing times.

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Millions of pregnant women across the U.S. are preparing to welcome their new baby into a world that feels very confusing and overwhelming at the moment. If you’re feeling stressed about navigating your pregnancy during these quickly-changing times of social distancing and COVID-19, you’re not alone. Your community is here to support you, and there are many resources you can turn to for help. Read on to learn more about how to keep yourself healthy and make sure you have a safe pregnancy.

Are Pregnant Women at Higher Risk?

Since this virus is still relatively new, not enough studies have been done to say for sure whether or not pregnant women are more prone to getting COVID-19 than anyone else. So far, there hasn’t been any evidence to show that they are – but Healthline notes that pregnancy changes women’s immune system, lungs, and heart, making them more at risk of developing respiratory issues in general. According to the CDC, pregnancy also causes changes in women’s bodies that may make them more prone to catching certain infections.

Since any type of illness can potentially cause additional challenges for a pregnant woman, it’s best to take extra precautions to stay healthy.

How can I protect myself against COVID-19?

Pregnant women should strictly adhere to the general hygiene tips laid out by the CDC:

  • Wash your hands (frequently) for at least 20-30 seconds
  • Avoid touching your face (especially with unwashed hands)
  • Avoid leaving the house as much as possible (except to exercise)
  • Stand 6 feet away from people
  • Avoid people who are sick
  • Get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods and drink enough water

While shelter-in-place orders still permit healthy people to leave the house to go to essential places like grocery stores, you may want to play it safe if you’re pregnant and limit the amount of times you leave the house at all. See if a friend or family member can pick up your groceries for you, or check to see if any of your local grocery stores offer home delivery services.

If I contract COVID-19, what are the chances of me passing it to my baby?

According to Baby Center, scientists haven’t found any evidence so far to suggest that the virus can be transmitted from a mother to her baby in the womb.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that the virus hasn’t been found in breast milk yet, but there’s not enough information to know for sure whether or not women who are sick can pass the virus to their baby through breastfeeding. If you’re planning on breastfeeding your newborn, talk with your doctor to see what extra precautions you should take.

How can I manage my stress and anxiety?

It’s completely normal to feel nervous about pregnancy, even under normal circumstances. With the added stressors of COVID-19 and social distancing, it’s more important than ever for expecting moms to take care of themselves and focus on managing their stress.

Here are some helpful self-care tips to help you stay calm and healthy, courtesy of Baby Center:

  • Spend some time outside when you are able. Take a gentle walk, read a book in your backyard or just take a moment to soak up some sunshine. Just be sure you’re staying 6 feet away from your neighbors.
  • Take plenty of breaks, and don’t put pressure on yourself to do extra chores around the house.
  • Limit your news intake – it’s good to stay informed, but too much negative news can have a serious impact on your mental health.
  • Stay connected with loved ones. Make time each day to call, video chat, or send a text to friends and family who lift your spirits.
  • Make sure you’re eating nutritious meals and getting plenty of sleep.
  • Try to make calming activities like yoga, stretching or meditation a part of your daily routine.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If you’re feeling too anxious or overwhelmed, you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources and online support groups where you can find guidance and community, even during these hard times.

Will my doctor’s appointments change at all?

Call your doctor ahead of time to see how their office is handling OB/GYN appointments at this time. They may offer the option to conduct minor appointments over the phone or on a video call instead of in-person – however, you shouldn’t expect too much of a change. Your doctor will still be reachable on a regular basis, and ultrasounds shouldn’t be affected unless you’ve been notified otherwise.

Your doctor’s office will be taking extra precautions to make sure their equipment and facilities are sanitized and that you’re always a safe distance away from other patients.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor at any time.

Valleywise Health is here to keep you healthy and informed no matter what, and our caring OB/GYN team is always happy to answer any questions you might have. To speak with a representative, book an appointment or find a location near you, call 1-888-VLLYWSE or visit ValleywiseHealth.org.

Sources:

  1. https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/pregnancy/coronavirus-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/coronavirus-pregnancy#prevention
  3. https://www.babycenter.com/0_pregnancy-and-the-coronavirus-covid-19-symptoms
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding

About the Author

Patricia Habak, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ambulatory Care

Dr. Habak is a long-time member of the faculty at Valleywise Health and has been deeply involved with the residency program since she graduated in 2002. She served as the Associate Program Director between 2012 and 2019 and is the Vice Chair for the Department of Ob/gyn. Her primary clinical interests include quality improvement, ambulatory gynecology and obstetric emergencies.

Dr. Habak graduated with her MD from the University of Iowa (Carver College of Medicine) after obtaining a BA in molecular biology at Northwestern University. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Phoenix Integrated Residency Program (PIROG). She is Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology (2004). She has been a member of the Medical Staff in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health since January 2003.

Read more posts by Patricia Habak, MD  Browse all topics

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