If you are pregnant during this current pandemic of coronavirus and have concerns or questions about your pregnancy, you are not alone. There is still a lot to learn about the virus and whether (or how) pregnancy can be affected by it, but OB/GYN doctors are gaining greater knowledge about its effects every day.
So far, much of the advice for pregnant women regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) – which is also called SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) – is similar to the advice for the rest of the general population. Wear a mask especially when going indoors where other people are, keep a safe six-foot distance from others, don’t touch your orifices (eyes, nose, mouth), and always wash your hands with soap and water after touching things that have come into the house.
Let’s discuss some of the frequently asked questions about the coronavirus and pregnancy, and who you can talk to in order to help ensure you deliver a healthy baby through it all.
Are Pregnant Women at a Greater Risk of Getting Coronavirus?
It is still unclear whether pregnant women are more likely to contract the virus than anyone else. So far – with the limited information we have available – healthy, pregnant women who follow the safety guidelines appear to be at no greater risk than other adults.
Are Coronavirus Symptoms Worse in Pregnant Women?
Some pregnant women do experience more problems with other respiratory viruses such as the flu (influenza virus), so this may also be the case for COVID-19. However, looking at the cases of pregnant women who have contracted coronavirus so far, the vast majority have not appeared to suffer any worse symptoms than do other healthy adults who have contracted the virus.
How Can I Protect Myself from Coronavirus During Pregnancy?
Safety guidelines are the same for pregnant women as for the general population and include:
- Wash hands well and frequently, particularly after having been out in public or after touching things that may have been touched by others.
- Use hand sanitizer containing a minimum of 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face, especially near the eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Keep away from sick people.
- Avoid social contact with people from outside of your home, and maintain social distancing guidelines if you have to go out, staying at least six feet from others.
- Regularly clean overly touched areas and items with disinfectant, including door handles, countertops, remotes, and phones.
Pregnant women who are in the medically high-risk group, such as women who have diabetes (including gestational diabetes), are advised to stay at home as much as possible and avoid face-to-face contact with people outside of their own household.
Can the Coronavirus Cause Problems with My Pregnancy or Unborn Baby?
There is no evidence that pregnant women who are affected with the coronavirus are at an increased risk of miscarriage, but there have been some reports of links between pregnant women who are very sick with the coronavirus and premature birth. It is unclear, however, if this is due to the virus itself or due to distress in the baby.
In some circumstances, premature birth has been the result of an early cesarean section to allow better treatment for low oxygen levels in mothers with coronavirus-related breathing problems. Other acute illnesses that cause a fever can also be associated with premature labor and birth.
During pregnancy, the growing baby puts pressure on the mother’s lungs, heart, and circulation. If a pregnant woman becomes seriously ill with coronavirus, this could make the situation worse – and thereby requires close supervision by maternal and fetal medicine specialists to assess the health of the mother and unborn child.
Can I Pass the Coronavirus to My Baby During Pregnancy?
It is still unclear whether babies who have COVID-19 were infected in the uterus, during labor, or soon after birth. Similarly, because there is a risk of the baby catching the virus from an infected mother, it may be recommended that the baby be temporarily separated from its mother if she is sick at the time of delivery.
What Should I Do if I Am Pregnant and Have Coronavirus?
If you do get sick and have only mild symptoms, rest at home and make sure you are well-hydrated.
If you have any of the following symptoms and are concerned, contact your healthcare provider:
- Sore throat
- Chills or shivering
- Muscle pain
- A loss of smell of taste
Your OB/GYN will give you specific advice about staying as healthy as possible during your pregnancy.
Is It Safe to Deliver My Baby in a Hospital These Days?
It is still considered safe to deliver your baby in a hospital. Hospitals and birth centers are taking every precaution to protect patients from the coronavirus.
Patients with coronavirus symptoms are isolated from other patients in order to reduce the risk of spreading the infection, and most hospitals are limiting the number of people who are allowed in the delivery room to minimize risk. There are also visitor restrictions at most hospitals.
Maternal and Fetal Medicine in Syracuse
If you are looking for expert care during your pregnancy and beyond, the friendly staff at University OB/GYN Associates is dedicated to offering patients the full breadth of women’s health and maternity care here in Syracuse.
For more information about maternal and fetal medicine, or to schedule an appointment, contact University OB/GYN Associates today at (315) 464-5162. We look forward to being your healthcare partner!