Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately (and if that’s the case, good for you, given the circumstances!), you’ve most likely heard about COVID-19, aka the new coronavirus that has been wreaking the world havoc in the past few weeks and months. But what is it exactly and more importantly, how does it impact you, as a pregnant woman? What should you do to care for yourself and your baby during COVID-19?
The coronavirus everyone talks about appeared first in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019. It then spread rapidly to the rest of the world and is now affecting every state of the US. As of April 13, 11 cases have been reported in Adair County, Missouri.
COVID-19 is a new virus but not a new form of virus, as there are actually hundreds of them in the family. They are called “coronaviruses” because of the protein spikes at their surface that look like points of a crown. Despite their scary zombie-like existence (typical of any virus) and their ability to hijack thousands of human cells rapidly, coronaviruses usually only cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory illnesses in people. For instance, the common cold is a coronavirus. However, since 2002, 3 of these viruses have become popular due to their lethality, including SARS in 2012.
The new COVID-19 is particularly preoccupying for a couple of reasons:
As for symptoms, they present themselves in the form of a fever, a cough, and shortness of breath. They usually appear from 2 to 14 days following exposure. More serious symptoms require immediate medical attention. They include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, and more. You can learn about other symptoms and stay updated by checking the CDC website. Because even if we’re still lacking information on the virus, knowledge remains power!
And as a pregnant woman, you need power. The good news is that all is not lost and that there IS hope.
Are you more at risk of contracting COVID-19 if you are pregnant? According to the CDC, no, but you are more likely to get severely ill if you do get sick. This applies to women who are currently pregnant and to those who were pregnant less than 42 days ago. However, this doesn’t mean that you will get the virus. To avoid getting sick, take precautions such as washing your hands, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.
Last but not the least, should you worry for your unborn baby if you are pregnant during COVID-19? Even though the research is still limited, experts say they don’t see evidence that the new COVID-19 can be transmitted to the baby in utero. So far, only one newborn baby was tested positive for the disease right after being born, but it is unclear how it contracted the virus. More information is needed about the circumstances of the delivery and the safety measures that were taken.
Furthermore, even if contaminated, newborn babies were not found to have any adverse effects such as respiratory distress or abnormal liver functions.
If you are about to give birth soon, know that no mode of delivery (vaginal birth of C-section) is recommended so far. Experts say that there’s no proof that either method is safer when it comes to avoiding the transmission of the virus to the baby if the mother is infected. After birth, you may need to be isolated from your baby to prevent any risk of infection. According to the CDC, “the virus has not been detected in breast milk; however, we do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.”
The recommended precautions for pregnant women are to:
It is also greatly advised for pregnant women to stay at home, as we still don’t know the full story of COVID-19.
We hope that this information helps you in these troubled days. Is it time to panic? No, because avoiding the epidemic and staying safe is more than possible. Besides, health experts say that despite the limited data, there are reasons to stay reassured, even when pregnant. If you have any questions relative to pregnancy and parenting, Lifeline is still open during our regular hours. Precautionary measures are taken to avoid contamination, but you can give us a phone call at (660) 665-5688.