Coronavirus: Answers for Pregnant Women from OB/GYN Dr. Nita

Pregnant Woman

Pregnancy is a magical time, but during the coronavirus outbreak, pregnant women need to stay informed about changes that might happen in their routine care for office visits and delivery. Staying informed can help you focus on the important work of growing your miracle and keep you both safe. The Doctors OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry answers some important questions about being pregnant during this pandemic. If you have any questions about your own care, please contact your doctor. 

As Pregnant Women and Their Doctors Consider How the COVID-19 Epidemic Is Affecting Pregnancy and Care, Maternity Wards across the Country Are Changing Policies on Deliveries and Visitors.

What Can a Woman Do If She's Told Her Partner Will Not Be Able to Join?

This was a very tough decision for hospitals to make, but it was a very necessary decision to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. A woman should remember that the visitation restrictions are in place to help protect her and her beautiful baby. While I understand that many women will be very disappointed, some type of video chat will be their best option.

READ: Dr. Judy Ho's Quick Tips to Combat Coronavirus Fears

Could This Impact Mom and Baby by More Birth-Related Trauma, Postpartum Depression and Anxiety?

Yes. It is known that continuous support in labor improves birth outcomes for mothers and newborns. Not being allowed to have family and friends be a part of such a special event can definitely lead to anxiety and/ or a less pleasurable childbirth experience. Especially if a patient requires prolonged hospitalization after delivery, not having a support person with them could lead to postpartum depression or anxiety.

It's Not Known Whether Pregnant Women Are More Susceptible to Getting the Novel Virus - but Should Women Reconsider Some of Their Routine Checkups If They Are Not a High-Risk Pregnancy?

You are correct, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "We do not have information from published scientific reports about the susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19." However, due to immune and physiologic changes that occur during pregnancy, pregnant women might be more susceptible to viral respiratory infections like COVID-19. Prenatal care is very important for the well-being of moms and babies. Even if a woman is feeling fine and she is not a high-risk pregnancy, she should contact her healthcare provider before skipping routine check-ups. In some instances, the healthcare provider might okay rescheduling an appointment, or they might recommend a virtual appointment.

READ: More Coronavirus Signs and Symptoms to Be Aware Of

Should Certain Women Who Are in Surge Cities Look into Birthing Centers or Home Births vs Hospital?

All women have the right to choose where they will give birth. However, even in healthy pregnancies, labor and delivery complications can quickly arise. Therefore, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believes that hospitals, hospital-based birth centers, or accredited freestanding birth centers are still the safest places for a woman to give birth because moms and babies can quickly get the care they need in a hurry. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Studies have shown that babies born at home are more than twice as likely to die around the time of birth than those born in hospitals." Reputable hospitals and birthing centers are taking the proper precautions to protect moms and babies. I would encourage women who are thinking of changing their birth plan due to COVID-19 to discuss any concerns with their OB/GYN or healthcare provider.

What Happens When a Pregnant Woman With COVID-19 Goes Into Labor? 

It depends on the specific hospital. For example, many hospitals have a separate area for COVID-19 patients. If a pregnant woman has COVID-19, she might be required to deliver in that area of the hospital (instead of the labor and delivery unit). The healthcare professionals will wear personal protective equipment during her labor and delivery. After delivery, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised hospitals to consider temporarily separating (eg, in separate rooms) the mother with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from her baby until the mother's transmission-based precautions are discontinued. This is a shared decision between parents and healthcare providers. The baby (who will be cared for by a healthy, qualified staff) will be appropriately isolated and evaluated. You can ask your hospital if they will allow a healthy parent or caregiver to visit the baby. If you have COVID-19 or if you are concerned about COVID-19 exposure, please call ahead to notify the labor and delivery team so they can prepare for your arrival/ give you arrival instruction.

Can It Be Passed through Breastmilk? Should You Forgo and Stay 6-Feet Away from Your Baby?

In the limited amount of research that we do have, no evidence of the virus has been found in the breast milk of women with COVID-19. However, we need more studies before we can definitively determine if women who are sick can pass the virus through breast milk. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. However, much is unknown about COVID-19. Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers." If a woman with COVID-19 chooses to breastfeed, she should wash her hands before touching the baby, and she should wear a mask while breast feeding - if possible. If she is using a breast pump, she should wash her hands before touching the pump or bottle parts and clean the pump and bottle parts after use.

*Stay informed on the latest information on the coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and learn about prevention methods and what to do if you are infected.

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