COVID-19: I'm pregnant - what should I do?
With Stephen Pedron, MD, MBA- Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist
Iowa has not peaked or hit its worst phase with coronavirus yet, so please don't relent.
Pregnant women are probably not at any greater risk for coronavirus infection than the non-pregnant patient. However, viral pneumonia is often more serious, and potentially deadly, for the pregnant patient compared to the non-pregnant one.
It now appears that COVID-19 might possibly be transmitted from mother to baby while still inside. The primary objective is avoidance of maternal infection. All measures should be taken to avoid exposure during pregnancy. Stay out of public places, avoid any unnecessary contact with others, wash hands often with soap and water, never touch your face, don't share food or utensils, sterilize surfaces, sterilize items you bring into your household (including food), etc.
Basically, treat every surface as if it has a deadly contagion on it. It could. Pregnant patients and their family members should be wearing a mask at all times when outside their homes.
Many obstetricians in our community are recommending strict isolation for the pregnant woman near term (optimally 2-3 weeks prior to your anticipated delivery date). Once you have delivered, continue to isolate and prevent infection yourself. Your baby will be particularly susceptible to coronavirus in the newborn period, no longer protected by being inside the mother.
As far as we know breast milk is safe with coronavirus, though special measures are taken if the mother is infected.
The CDC has a pregnancy & breastfeeding page
. Until we are past the crisis stage, which will not be before summer, my advice is to be even more careful than the most cautious recommendations you find there.
If you do develop symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, etc., call your provider right away to be evaluated. The recommendations for testing in pregnancy are more inclusive, including the advice to test more pregnant women who may not strictly meet criteria for the non-pregnant patient, but who have other hi-risk factors or complications.