Being pregnant in the age of Coronavirus can be scary. Medical and research professionals are learning more every day about the effects of Covid-19 and this includes how it affects pregnant women, their unborn child, or how it changes breastfeeding. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Centers for Disease Control have information that can help to answer your questions and alleviate any fears you may have.
8 Things You Should Know About Covid-19, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding
1. Pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness requiring the need for treatment in intensive care units and mechanical ventilation.
The good news is that at this time pregnancy does not increase the risk of death associated with Covid-19. Data has shown that the absolute risk to pregnant women with COVID-19 is substantially lower than that of the rate of H1N1 influenza infection. While the risk of contracting COVID-19 was not significantly increased with pregnant women, those who are pregnant and also have comorbidities like obesity are at an increased risk.
2. Data is still being collected by the CDC.
Data is still being collected by the CDC., but there is evidence that adverse pregnancy outcomes are increased in women diagnosed with the coronavirus, including preterm birth. Pregnant women and those living with them should carefully consider the risk involved to the mother and unborn child that exists when running errands and going to events. Pregnant women should take extra precautions to prevent infection. In order to prevent contracting COVID-19, stay home if possible, wear a mask and other recommended PPE if you must go out, engage in frequent hand washing, and social distance in public and limit interactions with people. It is also important that you keep hand sanitizer with you, use it regularly, and utilize a face covering every time you leave your home.
It is also important that you keep your regular prenatal and postpartum care appointments, ensuring that you have your regular taken medications on hand. The ACOG also recommends that you keep up on routine vaccines such as the flu and Tdap. When your newborn enters the world, their regular visits should be kept and performed in-person to ensure the critical newborn screenings are done.
3. Pregnant women who test positive for Covid-19 are encouraged to enroll in the PRIORITY REGISTRY.
This is a nationwide study is being conducted to help both patients and healthcare professionals understand the impact the disease has on pregnant women and their unborn children.
4. It is also important to know that the CDC has also excluded pregnant and lactating women from coronavirus vaccine clinical trials.
However, the ACOG has stressed the importance for pregnant women to be included in and made a priority in the vaccine once available.
5. Postpartum depression is a serious condition.
Consult with your provider any feelings you may be having as soon as possible. While pregnant, women should also seek help for alleviating any stress caused by the pandemic and communicate with your health care team. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are struggling to deal with the new normal that it has caused, reach out for help. It is important for you to learn how to cope with stress for yourself and your family. Don’t leave children in the dark about what is going on. You and all family members should honestly and openly discuss with the children in the home the pandemic and the changes it has made in their lives.
6. Pregnant women with symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been exposed to those diagnosed with COVID-19 should be tested.
Should you be diagnosed as COVID-19 positive, do not be alarmed when in the hospital, your professional has been directed by the CDC to use Personal Protective Equipment including eye protection. It is helpful to know that should you be diagnosed with the coronavirus, vertical transmission is uncommon. However, the CDC and ACOG recommend that infants born to those with COVID-19 be isolated and cared or according to the CDC’s guidelines. The decision to separate newborns from their COVID-19 affected mothers is made on a case-by-case basis but you should be a part of the decision. The options include co-isolation or temporary separation. Professionals are not sure at this point whether COVID-19 can be transmitted through breastmilk, but respiratory droplets while breastfeeding can transmit the virus. Expressed milk and bottle feedings may be recommended. Breast milk protects against illness and offers the best nutrition for newborns. Wear a cloth face covering while breastfeeding your newborn.
7. It is helpful to have a plan ahead of time in regards to how you will deliver your baby.
Hospitals have updated their visitation guidelines, so you may have to get creative. Discuss and set up virtual support with your family and friends. Talk to the facility where you will deliver and find out what other operations have changed and what should happen if you or your baby were to get sick.
8. Watch for these symptoms in your newborn or older children that could indicate Coronavirus infection:
- Cold symptoms such as fever, runny nose, and cough
- Vomiting and diarrhea
For more information on how COVID-19 affects pregnant women, their unborn children, and breastfeeding please visit: