Along with everyone else in the world you’re probably worried about coronavirus and COVID-19 (the latter being the disease caused by this novel coronavirus). But unlike many others, you may be a little more anxious since you’re pregnant.
Pregnancy comes with its own set of discomforts: morning sickness, fatigue, stretch marks, heartburn, back pain, mood swings, and more. And now you have to deal with a coronavirus pandemic on top of growing a human inside of you? I feel you, mama. I’m currently there with you. And none of us planned to be pregnant during a pandemic.
Coronavirus and COVID-19 have added a whole new level of stress for pregnant women to deal with. But you know what – you can handle it! And the first way you can cope with it all is by being informed.
What Coronavirus Means for Pregnancy
It’s completely normal to have concerns about coronavirus and pregnancy. Your mind is likely racing with questions, so we’ve got the answers.
Am I more at risk of getting COVID-19? Will I become sicker if I do get it?
At this time, the CDC says it’s not for sure if pregnant women are more at risk to get COVID-19 or get seriously ill from it than the general public. In a joint mission report on the coronavirus disease between the World Health Organization and 25 international experts, they found that “pregnant women do not appear to be at higher risk of severe disease” as opposed to Influenza A. They did a small investigation with 147 pregnant women with 64 confirmed cases, 82 suspected, and 1 asymptomatic, and only 8% experienced severe disease and 1% were critical.
But, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), due to changes in your body because of pregnancy, there is a chance you could be more susceptible to respiratory infections and having them turn into something more serious. For the general public, general symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough, and trouble breathing. But for the higher-risk population, which some are putting pregnant women into, this virus could lead to illnesses like pneumonia.
Can COVID-19 cause problems with my pregnancy?
Right now the CDC is unsure if COVID-19 can cause any complications during pregnancy, like a miscarriage, or if a mother who is infected can pass COVID-19 to her fetus during pregnancy or to her baby during delivery.
Can babies get the coronavirus?
The CDC and ACOG have both stated that it’s unclear at this time if COVID-19 can be passed on to or hurt a fetus or newborn baby. Thankfully, current data (although limited) shows that this virus can’t be passed to a mother’s fetus or her baby during pregnancy or delivery. A small study of nine pregnant women who had COVID-19 and showed symptoms delivered healthy babies. The virus wasn’t found in samples of their amniotic fluid, breast milk, or the babies’ throats.
To date, the CDC is reporting fewer cases in children, and for the most part, children are experiencing a milder infection. But there isn’t enough data to say if babies fall into this category or if they’ll be the exception since typically newborns are so vulnerable to sickness.
Will I be able to breastfeed if I tested positive for COVID-19?
While scientists and medical experts are still trying to figure out exactly how COVID-19 spreads, in general, they’re saying the virus is passed in the air through respiratory droplets when infected people cough or sneeze. It can be spread from person-to-person or if you touch a contaminated surface.
So far, it doesn’t appear that the virus can be found in breastmilk, but the jury is still out on if mothers can transmit COVID-19 through their breastmilk. For now, the CDC and ACOG are more concerned about infected mothers passing the virus to her infant while breastfeeding through her respiratory droplets. If it’s been confirmed that you have COVID-19 or are showing any symptoms, take extra precautions around your baby. Thoroughly wash your hands before touching your newborn or a breast pump, and wear a mask if possible while breastfeeding.
Coronavirus Preventative Measures
How can I protect myself from coronavirus?
It’s recommended that pregnant women do the same things to prevent getting this virus as the general public:
- Wash your hands often using soap and water (if you can’t wash them, use hand sanitizer)
- Do your best not to touch your eyes, mouth, or nose, especially with dirty hands
- Use your elbow to cover your coughs and sneezes
- Avoid people who are sick
- Stay at least 6 feet away from people if you have to go out in public
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat healthy foods
- Try to control and handle stress as best as you can
- Follow any recommendations from your local government, health authority, and doctor.
What can I do to prevent the coronavirus disease at home?
The main thing you can do is keep your house clean. Use a disinfecting cleaner or wipes every day to clean and disinfect surfaces or objects people touch a lot.
Can I go out shopping for baby items?
Many Americans have been told to work from home. Some can’t work because their place of employment has been shut down for the time being. Major events and schools have closed.
To slow the spread of coronavirus, the White House has advised everyone to practice social distancing. One way they ask we do that is by avoiding discretionary shopping trips.
I know how fun it is shopping for baby carriers, diaper bags, swaddlers, tiny newborn outfits, and all the baby things. But right now, your health and the health of your baby are more important. So to be safe, don’t physically shop in stores and make sure you and your baby are getting the rest and sleep needed to stay healthy during this time. That doesn’t mean you can’t shop, though! You can easily and safely find all the baby items you need online. You can even throw a virtual baby shower.
Since this is a new strain of coronavirus, scientists, medical experts, and all of us are still learning about COVID-19, especially in regards to pregnant women, fetuses, and infants. The best thing you can do is follow recommendations given by the government and health officials, along with any recommendations from your OB or midwife. You can also keep yourself prepared with the most up-to-date and reliable information by visiting the WHO’s website and the CDC’s website.