Pregnant During COVID-19: What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting a Pandemic
You’re working differently. You’re playing differently You’re even going to the grocery store differently. A lot has changed due to COVID-19, and you’re probably wondering whether your pregnancy care will be affected, too. Read on for answers to some common questions.
Am I at higher risk for severe COVID-19?
Based on what’s known so far, being pregnant may put you at increased the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. You may also be at higher risk for complications such as preterm birth. In addition, being pregnant also raises the risk for serious illness from other viral respiratory infections such as flu. When you’re pregnant, it’s always important to reduce exposure to viruses as much as you can.
How might my pregnancy care be affected?
COVID-19 does not change the fact that you should continue receiving quality care and support from your healthcare team. But extra precautions may be needed while the virus is spreading in your community. Changes that you might see include:
Video or phone visits in place of some in-person visits with your healthcare provider
Clear divider screens at the reception desk and socially distanced seating in the waiting room—or sometimes mobile check-ins and waiting in your car
Tests scheduled on the same day as your appointment so that you make fewer trips to the office overall
Limits on the number of visitors you can bring to the doctor’s office and the hospital
Virtual maternity unit or birth center tours
Online prenatal and childbirth classes
Is it safe to deliver my baby in a hospital?
The choices you make about your birthing options are very personal. Hospitals and accredited birth centers remain safe places to give birth, even during the pandemic. They have strict infection control procedures to protect you and your baby. Delivering your baby in one of these settings is especially important if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 at the time.
On the other hand, a growing number of women are considering a planned home birth. If you are having a healthy pregnancy and want to deliver your baby at home, work with a certified nurse-midwife or certified midwife to develop a safe birthing plan.
What will happen if I’m COVID-positive when I give birth?
It’s hard to hear, but your obstetric team may discuss having you and your newborn stay 6 feet apart or in separate rooms after the birth. Understandably, this is a complicated decision. A temporary separation reduces the chance of spreading the virus to your baby, but it may also be emotionally difficult and make breastfeeding more challenging. Don’t be afraid to speak up—you should be part of the decision-making about what’s best for you and your little one.
During pregnancy, you should take the same precautions as the general public. The CDC recommends:
Staying away from people who are sick or who have been exposed to COVID-19
Staying at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you
Wearing a cloth mask when you’re out in the community
Washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
Using hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) when soap and water aren’t handy