COVID-19: I'm pregnant - what should I do?
With Stephen Pedron, MD, MBA- Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist
I assume every pregnant woman and her family is wondering or worried about coronavirus (COVID-19, Sars-Cov-2, etc.).
You are right to be worried, and to be very cautious.
Pregnant women are not at any greater risk for coronavirus infection than the non-pregnant patient. However, viruses during pregnancy can be tricky. In particular, viral pneumonia is often more serious, and potentially deadly, for the pregnant patient compared to the non-pregnant one. This is true for influenza, or the “flu”, has been true for past serious viral scares (for example H1N1), and is highly likely to be the case for coronavirus as more pregnant women become infected.
Though data is still accumulating, 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 (infection while pregnant). 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, etc. Though normally travel during pregnancy is quite safe, until further notice, avoid it.
During this crisis families will have to cope with restrictions on who can share the joy of prenatal visits, ultrasounds, and delivery. Guidelines will vary depending on the clinic and the hospital. This is a sad consequence of the current state of things but is literally a matter of life and death for you and your baby.
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.
As you know, the official recommendations during this pandemic are fluid, often changing by the day or even by the hour. The CDC has a pregnancy & breastfeeding page, but I’m not sure it goes quite far enough. Until we are past the crisis stage, my advice is to be even more careful than the most cautious recommendations out there.
Again, the key is to avoid infection in the first place. It’s okay to be extreme for a while to do so. I don’t think Iowa has peaked or even hit its worst phase yet. so please don’t relent.
If you do develop symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, etc., call your provider right away to be evaluated. The recommendations for testing in pregnancy are more aggressive, 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.
High Risk Pregnancy Care
UnityPoint Clinic Maternal Fetal Medicine provides specialized care for pregnant women whose pregnancy may be considered high risk and may need a closer watch on their pregnancy. Our maternal fetal medicine specialists are obstetrics and gynecological physicians with an advanced multi-year fellowship in the specialty of high-risk pregnancy. After an initial consultation, our team works with your primary OB/GYN physician to provide compassionate care and monitor you and your baby.
Who should see a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist?
Our maternal fetal medicine specialists treat two patients at the same time, the mom-to-be and the unborn baby. We partner with area OB/GYN clinics to provide preconception counseling, genetic screening and high risk pregnancy care.
You may benefit from a consultation if you are newly pregnant and have:
- Multiple gestation
- History of early deliveries
- Recurrent pregnancy loss
- Heart, lung, vascular or kidney disease
- Blood disorders
- Fetal complications
Additional services include:
- Pre-pregnancy counseling
- Genetic counseling
- First trimester screening
- Diabetes co-management
- Routine and detailed ultrasounds
- Co-management of high risk pregnancies
Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic Providers