Being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic is understandably very stressful. You are paying close attention to the changes happening to your body while also keeping up with the latest news and updates regarding the coronavirus pandemic. You likely have lots of questions and concerns about your susceptibility, severity of symptoms, risks to the baby, etc. COVID-19 is a new disease, so unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of research to base answers on right now.
While there’s a lot of uncertainty around the coronavirus and pregnancy, we know from the Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) that pregnancy causes changes to the body and the immune system that could make you more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Therefore, it is very important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illness.
There’s also uncertainty around whether or not COVID-19 will affect the health of the baby after birth. The CDC says that they are not sure what (if any) risk is posed to infants born to pregnant women with COVID-19. There is a small sample size of reported problems, but it is not clear if these outcomes were related to maternal infection.
As scientists quickly try to understand how COVID-19 affects pregnancy there are steps you can take to prevent exposure and protect yourself and your baby from illness.
How to Protect Yourself
The CDC recommends that pregnant women follow the same guidelines to prevent and protect themselves from COVID-19 as the general public. With the signing of “New York State on PAUSE,” your chances of exposure should decrease as you will only be exposed to your own family or roommates in your living space. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue following these critical CDC recommendations:
- Avoid people who are sick
- Wash hands thoroughly and frequently
- Cover your mouth with your elbow if you cough or sneeze
- Disinfect surfaces in your home frequently
Although staying at home may be a tough adjustment for you and your family due to a change in lifestyle and routine, maintaining a healthy diet, sleep schedule and exercise routine will help strengthen your immune system and boost your health.
Additional Precautions & Considerations During Pregnancy
Aside from taking general health precautions, you should also consider plans and preparations for the remainder of your pregnancy. With a strict “stay at home” policy in place for an unknown amount of time, you may be wondering what you should do about your prenatal appointments, birth plan and even your baby shower.
If you have a scheduled prenatal appointment, call your doctor’s office and ask if they have telemedicine options or if you should postpone the appointment. If your baby shower is coming up, it likely has to be cancelled or postponed. If you don’t want to postpone the celebration, consider alternative options such as a virtual baby shower.
Another concern you may have is making changes to your birth plan. Since the CDC set new guidelines for medical facilities, including a no visitor policy, one visitor will likely be allowed when you deliver your baby if it is within the next few months. (Here’s a link to the updated visitor policy at Burdett Birth Center). Keep in mind that rules and policies continue to change and it’s always smart to have another birth plan prepared, just in case.
While there is a lot of unknowns when it comes to COVID-19 and pregnancy, you should take comfort in what is known. And that is that hospitals and birth centers will continue to do whatever they can to help you give birth safely during this pandemic. As news about COVID-19 continues to evolve, stay informed, be flexible, take precautions and protect yourself from exposure and illness.
Information in this article is not intended to be used as medical advice, but instead for thought and consideration. For more information on how to protect yourself from exposure to COVID-19 while pregnant, please consult your OB/GYN provider for more guidance. You may also want to read our blog on hand washing and our blogs on protecting yourself from the common cold and the flu during pregnancy.