COVID-19 and Pregnant Women
Welcoming a baby into the world is often an exciting and joyous time. However, during the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, many expecting families find themselves anxious for their babies impending arrival. We understand that during this time of uncertainty, you may have questions about your safety as an expecting family as well as the safety of your baby. We're here to provide you with some guidance.
Am I at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 if I am expecting?
At this time, there is not enough scientific research to support the idea that pregnant women are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than the general population. What we do know is that during pregnancy, women experience many changes in their body making them more susceptible to viruses and respiratory infections, such as influenza. We're encouraging our pregnant patients and their families to practice social distancing and take additional precautions such as avoiding people who are sick and washing their hands frequently, to protect themselves from this disease.
If I test positive for COVID-19, is my baby going to be affected too? Can I pass the infection to my baby during delivery?
Because this is a new virus, there still is not enough information to know if a mother can infect her baby during pregnancy or delivery. Small case reports have not suggested vertical transmission from mother to infant during pregnancy, but have suggested the possibility of transmission of infection from mother to infant soon after birth. Limited cases also indicate the possibility of preterm birth, however with limited research it cannot be definitively reported that these problems were related to the virus.
What is Sturdy Memorial doing to minimize maternity patients' exposure to COVID-19?
At Sturdy, we're taking steps to protect our expecting families, which includes restricted visitation. As of March 25, 2020 only one birthing partner or an approved prescreened doula are allowed during labor and delivery. Once the baby is born, the birthing partner is the only permitted visitor for mom and baby.
Additional precautions have been made to our labor and delivery unit for all maternity patients, including:
- Staff will be wearing masks and only hospital issued scrubs for patient protection.
- Lab draws will be performed by labor and delivery staff if possible to avoid exposing mother and baby to additional personnel throughout the hospital
- The waiting room will be closed and no additional visitors, besides the birthing partner, will be allowed into the hospital.
- Patients may be discharged early - this will be coordinated with physician and pediatrician
What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?
If you're pregnant and have tested positive for COVID-19, you will work with your OBGYN to continue your routine prenatal care and will further be asked to quarantine for 14 days. Depending on your symptoms and medical condition, you may need to receive additional hospital or specialized care as a result of COVID-19.
If you're confirmed to have COVID-19 during your delivery, you will be asked to wear a mask to protect your baby and the medical staff caring for you. Your physician will review post-delivery plans with you, which may include monitoring and modifications to skin-to-skin contact with your infant.
If I test positive for COVID-19, will I be able to breastfeed my baby?
COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets that are produced through sneezing or coughing. At this time, there is no information indicating COVID-19 can infect a baby through breast milk, but your physician may suggest that you make adjustments to the way you feed your baby if you are suspected or confirmed to have the virus.
Mothers with COVID-19 who are breastfeeding should take all precautions around their baby, including wearing a mask and washing hands and breasts prior to touching the infant. If possible, these mothers should consider pumping breast milk with a designated pump, and have a healthy caregiver feed the child to avoid exposing the infant.
If I test positive for COVID-19, will my baby still be able to stay in the same room with me?
Your OBGYN and nurse will discuss with you the risks and benefits of rooming in with your baby versus having your baby stay in the nursery. If you choose to have your baby stay in your room, there will likely be some modifications such as ensuring your baby is more than 6 feet away whenever possible, that a healthy caregiver feeds the baby, or if one is not available that you are wearing the appropriate mask while feeding your baby.