Pregnancy is Associated with a Greater Risk of Infection
According to the CDC pregnant adults appear to have the same risk as non-pregnant adults of getting COVID-19. However, pregnant women are at a greater risk of getting sick with respiratory infections and severe illnesses. There are a lot of unknowns related to COVID-19 so it is essential that pregnant women take all necessary precautions. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may suppress their immune systems and make them more susceptible to illnesses.
General COVID-19 Guidelines
There are general guidelines for all people that pregnant women should adhere to as well. It is important that you practice social distancing by maintaining six feet of space between individuals when in a public setting. Avoid people who are sick or may have been exposed to the virus. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public or before touching your face. If you do not have access to soap and water, you should use a 60% or more alcohol hand sanitizer. When coughing or sneezing, be sure to cover with a disposable tissue or your elbow. It is also essential to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home, such as light switches and door knobs to prevent the spread of germs.
Pregnancy and COVID-19
The CDC also outlines specific guidelines for pregnant women to ensure the safety and wellbeing of themselves and their unborn child. Currently there is no vaccine for COVID-19. It is important that pregnant women get the recommended immunizations, such as the flu and Tdap vaccines, to protect themselves and their unborn baby. Many pregnant women are weary about visiting their healthcare provider for prenatal and postpartum visits. However, it is essential that pregnant women still attend these visits to monitor the health of their unborn baby and their own health. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider and they will come up with a plan. Some doctors will offer video appointments and only ask patients to come in when it is time for an ultrasound or physical exam. If you have an emergency do not delay calling for help. When you call 911 be sure to tell them that you are pregnant. They will do all they can to protect you from getting Covid.
Labor and Delivery in the Covid Era
Labor and delivery looks a lot different in the Covid era. Hospitals test laboring women for coronavirus upon entry. Healthy and infected women alike are often required to wear masks through labor and delivery. Women who test positive are monitored closely and may only hold their baby while wearing a surgical mask that covers their mouth and nose. Their baby may stay in the room with mom but must maintain a distance of six feet apart. These are precautions to protect the baby, but how devastating! Family members can no longer visit the hospital for the birth or afterwards. Most hospitals only allow one support person, which is often the baby’s father. Trained birth coaches are sometimes permitted as well. Partners who test positive will not be permitted and must watch the delivery on video instead. Coronavirus has greatly impacted labor and delivery procedures and protocols.
Following Coronavirus Guidelines and Pregnancy Recommendations
Much is still unknown about coronavirus. Since pregnant women are an immunosuppressed population, it is essential that they adhere to all COVID-19 guidelines and take additional precautions. It is also crucial that pregnant women continue to follow the general pregnancy recommendations and attend prenatal and postpartum doctor visits.
- Coronavirus, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital – Pregnancy and COVID-19
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